I find myself in an interesting predicament here where I'm actually fascinated by the subject matter, but really don't care about these essays that I need to crank out.
I'm familiar with the material. Literary essays are sort of a different beast though because it's not quite enough to write an essay demonstrating that you've read the material. You have to form some other opinion about the piece, or context, that someone possibly hasn't yet, and then support that argumentative statement with the remaining 970 words.
To read more about the Jazz Age, I checked out Bruccoli's, Before Gatsby: The First Twenty-Six Stories, for some supporting references. Fitzgerald is actually a fascinating writer. He describes things like, "Lips that looked like a remembered kiss." I wish I could just read his short stories all day and not have to write this.
Anyway, back to my ongoing point in the Writing Category of this Blog, writing is very much a process, and I had to take this essay on the ninth grade way: Thesis, Outline, now Mechanically Write.
I need 1,000 words to come from this:
The Jazz Age was a time of reckless abandonment for a young rich white American population, and it was a time of social ground taking for the black population of America, while racism still ran deep below the surface.
I. Intro. (What was so roaring about the 20's?)
II. How were white Youngins running reckless, and why?
A. F. Scott Fitzgerald coined the term Jazz Age with a collection of short stories that chronicled the wild behavior of a carefree youth mingling in the upper class of society.
B. Stories of partying in The Jelly-Bean
C. Stories of partying in The Camel's Back
D. Classist / Racist Overtones in The Camel's Back segueing into III
III. What exposure and mingling occurred between blacks and whites?
A. Langston Hughes talks about the partying in Harlem. While there was a period of broad acceptance between both races, the "normal" person didn't notice it. "And if they had, it hadn't raised their wages any" (Hughes 218).
B. While it seemed a period of tolerance, the black culture actually sacrificed real heritage to put on an act.
IV. Consequences of Both:
A. Hughes mentions the crash of 29, everyone was in line for social assistance..."sent Negroes, white folks, and all rolling down the hill toward the Works Progress Administration" (Hughes 216).
B. Fitzgerald in Babylon Revisited (how much did people lose?)
That's actually plenty to work with.
You can get at least 50 words from each citation. This pulls in a resource from outside of class. I think the thesis is acurate and edgy enough to keep interest. It's not particularly original though. It doesn't take much observation of the Harlem Renaissance to realize it was degrading to a beautiful culture. I do think, however, that some great things came of it.
Like always, there only remains words to put on paper.
I want to emphasize though that the outline is a tremendous lifeline, and if you are stuck you should not go to bed until you at least crank out an outline...even if a crappy one. If you abandon creativity, and just stick to your outline, a paper will emerge. You can doll it up later if it's even needed.