Objective: For this essay, you will be analyzing Erik Larson’s style, revealing what devices he uses to convey his message(s) to his readers. The majority of the paper should be comprised of detailed close readings that analyze how his use of language contributes to an overall effect on the reader. Feel free to draw evidence from your journal (but don’t do so blindly, without considering if there are better options! You may end up taking only general ideas from the journal.). Your analysis should show real depth and insight, going beyond the obvious, and beyond what we have discussed in class. Your paper should also show an awareness of the entire novel. Focusing only on one section may hopelessly distort your analysis.
Thesis: As always, you should have a specific, debatable thesis that drives the paper (i.e. not “An important part of Larson’s style is irony,” but rather something more to the effect of “In The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson uses irony to __________.”).
Evidence: Your evidence should be relevant, specific quoted passages that support your claims. This evidence must not only be detailed, but its connection to the claim must be clearly explained. The quotations should be followed by insightful commentary that closely analyzes Larson’s use of language. This commentary should not stop at identifying types of rhetorical strategies (i.e. “the irony in the sentence is created by the ______”), but rather continue on to explain the larger function of that strategy in the book (i.e. “the use of irony at this particular point in the book causes the reader to ________, which might make him reconsider _______.”)
Context: It would be wise to consider Larson’s audience. To whom is he writing? What is his purpose? Why might he have chosen to write in this genre, in this style, using these specific rhetorical devices? How might his chosen audience have influenced his use of language?
Structure: This is not a five paragraph essay. Do not choose three random rhetorical strategies and plug them into the five paragraph form. The body paragraphs must work together with the thesis to create a cohesive, whole argument. Show connections between strategies if you deal with more than one. How are they working together to create one effect—or how are they creating a kind of tension that pulls the reader in two different directions, contributing to a different kind of overall effect? Or perhaps you would like to focus on only one main strategy that you see Larson employing to different ends throughout the book. The options are myriad. Whatever course you choose, just make sure that the pieces all fit together logically, with each paragraph building on the previous one.
Due: Friday, December 3rd
Length: 3-5 pages
Format: MLA format. Double-spaced, 10-12 point font, pages numbered and stapled. Your paper should have a title—and not just “Larson’s Style” or “The Devil in the White City.” Be creative!
The Devil in the White City Style Analysis Paper
Specific & debatable thesis at or near the end of intro.
Includes the aspect(s) of Larson’s style on which the paper will focus & how that/those aspect(s) contribute(s) to the larger purpose(s) or message(s) of the book. Written in an effective & sophisticated style.
Clear thesis at or near the end of introduction.
Includes the aspect(s) of Larson’s style on which the paper will focus & how that/those aspect(s) contribute(s) to the larger purpose(s)/ message(s) of the book. May be more blunt or less eloquent than an A thesis.
Solid thesis at or near end of introduction.
May be rather vague on one of the thesis elements (aspect of style and connection to larger purpose or message. May not be a truly debatable claim.
May be blunt or less eloquent.
Thesis difficult to find: vague, incomplete, too spread out, and/or out of place May be...
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