Wide Sargasso Sea

ENG/GBS 3299: Other Americas
Dr. Beth Ann Way
Paper #1 Due Dates and Guidelines (REVISED!):
Prospectus due: Monday, 9/7; please upload a digital file to the link in Blackboard before 11:59pm
Final Paper 1 due: Digital copy uploaded to Blackboard by 11:59pm on Monday, 10/5
Grading Conferences: Weeks of Oct. 5 & 12 (a sign-up sheet will be provided on Bb)
Your first paper should be 1,500 words (approx. 4 pages), typed in 12-point font, double-spaced, with 1-
inch margins and numbered pages. If you exceed the word limit just a bit that is fine, but your essay
should be 1,500 words minimum. Be sure to give your paper an interesting title. “Wide Sargasso Sea” or
“The Library of Babel” is not a very specific title that leads me to want to read more! But rather, “Not
Quite For Better or For Worse: Marriage as a Financial Transaction in Wide Sargasso Sea” is much more
appealing, thought provoking, and specific. Please be sure to put your name, the course number, and the
date in the top left corner of the first page. The title should be centered below this information. Cover
pages are not required. Keep the writing formal.
This is your assignment: write an essay in which you select one passage from Jean Rhys’s Wide
Sargasso Sea or from one of Luis Borges’s short stories and present a close reading that offers a
significant thesis. You should not use any outside sources, but be sure to include a bibliography in MLA
style that lists the novel. Your thesis statement should be active (makes a claim) and significant
(answers the “so what” question). In other words, your thesis should make a claim about the text that
could be argued and should also tell us the significance of this claim: So what if X is happening in the
text? What do we stand to learn by thinking about your claim? For example, “Jane’s reading preferences
are for texts with Gothic scenes and images” stops short of going far enough as a thesis statement.
Instead, “Although Jane’s attraction to Gothic texts suggests her unhappiness with her life, ultimately
Brontë proposes that this dark, morbid material actually gives her life and a freedom of expression for her
desires”. The second thesis makes an assertion about Jane’s relationship to the Gothic, but more
specifically says what we stand to learn about the ironically life-giving sources that these afford Jane.
Questions about the assignment? Please ask!
Some potential topics:
Mixed/Race and Identity Elements of magical realism
Gender norms/anxieties/subversions Land and sea
Performance Otherness
Marriage Jamaica and/versus England
Names/lack thereof and power Madness/insanity
Education Fire/light/candles
Dreams/nightmares Books/sources of knowledge
Duels Constructed/open spaces
Originality Criminal behavior
Infinity Religion/Faith/Christianity/Obeah
Labyrinths Fate and/versus Destiny

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