Paper Topics Round I:
Terence, Eunuch; Catullus, Poems; Satires of Horace and Juvenal; Cicero’s Speeches (For Caelius and For Archias); Vergil, Aeneid
[NB: Some items may be similar to questions on previous midterm(s)]
Manliness and virility. How does Terence use the language of manliness/men in the Eunuch? How is gender represented and how does it tie into the Eunuchus or the Eunuchus? Why do you think the play is called the Eunuchus?. If we accept the idea idea that the plays have a fundamental pedagogical function, what does this imply about teaching an adulescens (young man) to become a vir (“man”).
Eunuchs. Compare and contrast the Eunuchus’ representation of ‘Eunuchs’ to Catullus 63, in which Attis becomes a priest of Cybele by castrating himself. What are the associations of Eunuchs in terms of gender, status, and national origin? If the Eunuch symbolizes decadent foreignness (a stereotype also for Greece), is it ironic that Terence should parade that symbolic relevance in a play so openly devoted to Greek achievement in the arts? How does this relate to other attitudes about Rome’s martial and literary conquests of Greece?
Meretrix/Thais. Do you think that the Eunuch’s treatment of Thais can be read as espousing a feminist agenda or at least one sympathetic to the position of a meretrix in Roman culture? Argue the proposition that Thais is the most ethically sound character of the play.
Standards. How do Horace and Juvenal (pick only one) distinguish themselves from other authors, either from others in their own genre (e.g. Lucilius) or authors working in different traditions (epic poetry, for example)? How is this important to the way in which the author establishes his own conception of satire? Again, choose either Horace or Juvenal, not both.
Creative Writing (satire): Two Items:
Write your own 100 line satire on any topic of your choosing. Model it, however, on the techniques, argumentative strategies, and general manner of presentation (tone, persona) of either Horace or Juvenal.
Then write 500 words explaining which author you have modeled your satire on, and how your own satire reflects that author’s writings.
Oratory I: Ideology and Poetry.
I have said in class that Cicero’s speech for Archias could be summarized in the pithy modern American bumper sticker “Support Our Troops.” Design your own motto for the speech and explain, through detailed analysis of the speech’s arguments, why that motto is appropriate.
Oratory II: Rhetoric and Literature: Liquid Imagery in Cicero’s Speech for Caelius.
Nautical and aquatic metaphors are essential to the speech’s persuasive design. Readers often overlook this imagery, despite its relevance to Cicero’s presentation of Caelius, Clodia, and even of himself. Cicero also carefully deploys topography and geographical associations in support of his broader narrative: lavish villas on the Bay of Naples, where Rome’s elite practiced leisure and conspicuous consumption, or the Roman bath house, where dubious transactions took place. This essay requires you to consider the literary elements of Cicero’s rhetoric and, in turn, the rhetorical underpinnings of a piece of literature. Discuss the vocabulary of water in the Pro Caelio (speech for Caelius). Consider how Cicero integrates images of language, place, and geography into his overarching argument and his depictions of individuals.
Epic traditions: Compare Vergil’s Aeneid with one aspect of another epic that you’ve read. How are they similar? What is unique to each work? If Vergil models his work on the epic you’ve chosen, how do the similarities and differences create meaning for the Aeneid?
Epic Consequences: What are the consequences of founding the Roman state as documented in the Aeneid? For Aeneas? For others? What might these consequences mean?
Dido. Dido (especially the Dido of book IV) fascinates modern readers. Discuss Dido’s role in the Aeneid. What kind of ethical dilemma does it present for her and for Aeneas, and who, ultimately makes the most defensible ethical choices?
Epic Themes: Pick one major theme from the Aeneid and discuss how it plays out across the whole work.
Topics applicable to one or more works:
Ecphrasis. Examine any of the ecphrases we have read thus far.
Choose from among the following possible approaches or topics (you may choose more than one):
How does ecphrasis relate to the larger themes of a given work?
Compare two or more instances of ecphrasis either within or across works. Are they useful, effective, distracting, propaganda, just sheer adornment?
Women. Women are critical figures in many of the works read in this course, but at the same time their voices are usually hidden behind the concerns of male figures. Alternatively, we could say that the representation of women distorts or idealizes them in ways that are revealing about Roman culture (and revealing far beyond Rome’s notorious attitudes of mistrust, disregard, or misogyny). Pick one (or more) texts in which the role of women (or a woman) expresses something unique about that text, about how it creates meaning, and how the representation of women is essential to its success as a piece of literature.
A model of rhetorical analysis: Bromwich on Obama
Read the following article, “Expedience and the Torture Amnesty,” by Professor David Bromwich (Yale University):
In this piece Bromwich analyzes and criticizes the rhetoric of President Barack Obama. Bromwich’s target is a press release discussing the publication of government memos on the use of torture during the administration of President George W. Bush. In the document Obama also defends his decision not to investigate or prosecute government officials who had ordered or executed acts of torture against suspected terrorists. Bromwich quotes a dozen or so sentences in boldface and interlaces his own commentary in brackets beneath these snippets. He also incorporates longer pieces of commentary at various points throughout the text.
Following Bromwich’s model, write your own interlaced commentary on one of the texts that we have read thus (or a passage from one of those texts). You should elucidate the rhetorical assumptions and ideological complexities that underlie each sentence. You should also provide a longer response to the piece that goes beyond the rhetorical analysis. Include a brief introduction of the context and longer sections of response, either spread across the text (as Bromwich has done) or just at the end. Choose a passage for commentary of about a dozen sentences or about 40 lines of poetry.
Instructions and Deadlines:
“Re-wording” and thesis paragraph due Friday October 22nd at noon.
Final essays are due Friday October 29th at noon.
Hard Copy only, to my mailbox in Grosvenor House.
Items received after either deadline will be penalized according to the schedule in the syllabus.
This assignment requires two stages.
Stage One: Two items:
Write a short paragraph (100 words) which contains a re-wording, in your own words, of the assignment. What is the prompt asking of you?
Write a paragraph (about 100-200 words) which contains your introduction and a clear thesis statement around which your entire argument will be built.
Stage Two: Your paper:
Your paper should be 800-1000 words. Footnotes and bibliography are not required, unless you use materials outside of the course readings. I expect papers to be thoroughly proofed for grammar and spelling. You will be penalized for mistakes or carelessness.
You should have a clear introduction and should argue your point with a close eye to the texts we have read for this course. Draw frequently from these texts and cite passages essential to building your argument.
For formatting you should use the guidelines available in the Chicago manual of style. The 15th edition is available on-line through the library.