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The assignment is two writing questions that need to be answered by referring to some texts from the class material. Some of the material are The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, American Psycho, A Clockwork Orange, and Wollstonecraft the rights of women.

Final Assignment
Worth 45% of your total grade so make sure to do great. Good Luck!
Question 1 (50 points)
Discuss the following topic in a 500-word essay that draws upon at least one
work from each of the three units.
In The Republic, Plato writes, “We mean to employ for our souls’ health the rougher and
severer poet or story-teller, who will imitate the style of the virtuous only.” What does he
mean by this? How have authors/artists/filmmakers/etc. responded to this idea? Do the figures
you choose to discuss agree with Plato, disagree, or a little of both? Your answer should refer to
specific passages in the texts you choose to discuss.
Question 2 (50 points)
Discuss the following topic in a 500-word essay that draws upon at least one
work from each of the three units.
Your local library is voting to ban all controversial books and films, including Huckleberry Finn,
American Psycho, and A Clockwork Orange. With reference to specific passages from these
and/or other texts we’ve discussed this semester, explain to the library board why they should
not institute this policy. Make sure to present them with both a broad history of literary
controversy and specific details about the periods in question. Help them understand the nature
of controversy-what we argue about and why-so that they can make an informed decision about
how to vote. (Make sure to refer to at least two of our material: Huckleberry Finn, American
Psycho, and A Clockwork Orange)
Huck Finn (pay particular attention to how weird the ending is, a subject that has
raised a lot of questions for critics over the past century!)
https://www.gutenberg.org/files/76/76-h/76-h.htm
A Clockwork Orange:
You don’t have to watch the movie just read about it from google and see how it’s
related to American psycho
From Roger Rosenblatt, “Snuff This Book! Will Bret Easton Ellis Get Away With
Murder?” (The New York Times Book Review, December 16, 1990)
“American Psycho” is the journal Dorian Gray would have written had he been a high school
sophomore. But that is unfair to sophomores. So pointless, so themeless, so everythingless is this
novel, except in stupefying details about expensive clothing, food and bath products, that were it
not the most loathsome offering of the season, it certainly would be the funniest.
Several times, in the middle of some childishly gruesome description of torture or
dismemberment, I found myself chuckling with revulsion. Mr. Ellis quotes from “Notes From
the Underground” in one of his epigraphs. I wondered: could this fellow really think that he, like
Dostoyevsky, was being shockingly critical of the amorality of modern urban life? Why, yes!
[…]
Of course, you will be stunned to learn that the book goes nowhere. Characters do not exist,
therefore do not develop. Bateman has no motivation for his madness — though there is one
telling reference to his displeasure with a Waldorf salad. (My guess would be the urine.) No plot
intrudes upon the pages. Bateman is never brought to justice, suggesting that even justice was
bored. Nor is Mr. Ellis.
The novel may not be much as fiction or as social criticism, but its publishing history shows
what a glorious nut box people can get in when they lose sight of what writing is supposed to be.
Mr. Ellis got the process going with his lame and unhealthy imagination. The product of that
imagination was then urged forward by his editors, who either did not read the book — a sin not
unknown in a publishing era when it is more important to acquire a book than to edit it — or
worse, did read the book and felt that it had something.
It does. What “American Psycho” has is the most comprehensive lists of baffling luxury items to
be found outside airplane gift catalogues. I do not exaggerate when I say that in his way Mr. Ellis
may be the most knowledgeable author in all of American literature. Whatever Melville knew
about whaling, whatever Mark Twain knew about rivers are mere amateur stammerings
compared with what Mr. Ellis knows about shampoo alone.
The Time and Spy articles caught the worthlessness of the book, and thus subsequently did Mr.
Snyder and Mr. Davis. Quite rightly, they stopped the book cold. What then should follow as the
night the day? Cries of “censorship,” naturally, from the Authors Guild and other bestintentioned sorts who are understandably oversensitive to censorship threats these days in an
atmosphere poisoned by the malevolent ignorance of Jesse Helms and the cowardice of Congress
and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Even Helms & Company aren’t wielding censorship. You remember censorship. Censorship is
when a government burns your manuscript, smashes your presses and throws you in jail. When
an artist is unable to get a government grant, it may be inconvenient, but censorship it ain’t.
[…]
Finally, we come to ourselves, the muses of the story. It is our dough, after all, that everyone had
in mind all along — Mr. Ellis, Simon & Schuster, Vintage Books. They saw us as lowlife and
proceeded accordingly. Pause for introspection. Shall we prove them wrong? It would be sweet
revenge if we refused to buy this book. Thumb through it, for the sake of normal prurience, but
don’t buy it.
That nonact would give a nice ending to our tale. It would say that we are disgusted with the
gratuitous degradation of human life, of women in particular. It would show that we can tell real
books from the fakes. It would give the raspberry to the culture hustlers who, to their shame, will
not say no to obvious rot. Standards, anyone?
*
From John Irving, “Pornography and the New Puritans” (The New York Times Book
Review, March 29, 1992
In December 1990 — three months before “American Psycho” was published, and at the urging
of The Book Review — Roger Rosenblatt settled Mr. Ellis’s moral hash in a piece of writing
prissy enough to please Jesse Helms. According to Mr. Rosenblatt, Jesse Helms has never
engaged in censorship, either. For those of us who remain improperly educated in regard to what
censorship actually is , Mr. Rosenblatt offers a blanket definition. “Censorship is when a
government burns your manuscript, smashes your presses and throws you in jail,” he says.
WELL, as much as I may identify with Mr. Rosenblatt’s literary taste, I’m of the opinion that
there are a few forms of censorship more subtle than that, and Mr. Rosenblatt has engaged in one
of them. If you slam a book when it’s published, that’s called book reviewing, but if you write
about a book three months in advance of its publication and your conclusion is “don’t buy it,”
your intentions are more censorial than critical.
[…]
No; we are not in favor of child pornography if we say no to censorship. If we disapprove of
reinstating public hangings, that doesn’t mean that we want all the murderers to be set free. No
writer or publisher or reader should accept censorship in any form; fundamental to our freedom
of expression is that each of us has a right to decide what is obscene and what isn’t.
Now You’re Squeamish?
Fay Weldon
The Washington Post (1974-Current file); Apr 28, 1991;
ProQuest Historical Newspapers The Washington Post (1877 – 1995)
pg. C1
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Published: January 9, 1972
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