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Assignment 1


The past couple of weeks, we have been studying and writing about Ha Jin's collection of short stories A Good Fall. We've done so with an eye toward enhancing our interpretive reading skills with regard to each individual story, but also with an eye toward recognizing the way story collections are put together. We've tried to spot recurring themes and motifs in order to understand that collections often are not randomly thrown together but the result of careful arrangement and organization—even if it may, upon first look, not appear that way.

I must say you've come a long ways toward becoming good readers. Kudos for you!

Your job in this first assignment is to develop an argument for the thematic coherence of A Good Fall by demonstrating the networked quality of the collection. Put differently, you need to identify one or two major themes that run through the stories and then show how these themes or motifs connect the stories into a larger ensemble. That means, first of all, (1) that you need to demonstrate the importance of the themes or motifs of your choice for the stories you've chosen—often in different situations, configurations and character constellations. At the same time, (2) you need to argue how the motifs/themes add coherence, resonance, and texture to the collection it would otherwise not have. Perhaps one way to think about these themes and motifs—many of which we have identified and discussed in class—are narrative through-lines about, in the case of A Good Fall, the American immigrant experience. As well, don't forget to supplement your argument with research (legitimate print-based and digital resources, including, if appropriate, visual footage).

Length and Due Dates

  • 5-6 typed, double-spaced pages, plus a list of Works Cited
  • Wed, 23 Jan Library Research Instruction, LI #138
  • Fri, 25 Jan
    • Three interpretive notebook entries on A Good Fall
    • Proposed thesis statement and outline (student volunteers)
  • Mon, 28 Jan No class in lieu of reading, research and/or writing time
  • Wed, 30 Jan First draft; bring an extra copy for the in-class workshop
  • Fri, 1 Feb No class in lieu of conference time, and/or visit to Writing Center
  • Mon, 4 Feb Final Draft (with earlier drafts and notebook appended)

Please make sure that you have stapled together with your materials so that your final draft is on top and clearly recognizable, followed by your earlier draft(s).

Purpose and Goals

  • Sharpen your analytical reading and writing skills and recognize that stories have more than one "fixed/built-in" meaning
  • Combine your reading primary with appropriate secondary sources
  • Formulate a precise thesis and organize your essay around a set of core ideas
  • Put your ideas and evidence in a persuasive, effective and engaging order

Sincere Tips

  • Visit the Writing Center at whatever stages of the writing process you deem necessary;
  • Do not print out your paper (at home or at school) on the morning your paper is due;
  • As always, think of me as a resource.

Let's Connect!

mwutz@weber.eduPhone  801-626-7011
Skype  michaelwutz007

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Weber – The Contemporary West
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Mailing Address


Michael Wutz, Brady Presidential Distinguished Professor
Editor, Weber - The Contemporary West
Department of English, 1404 University Circle
Weber State University
Ogden, UT 84404-1404 USA