My first step for writing the proposal was to create an outline. This was necessary in order to then be able to find sources that matched my argument and write the corresponding abstracts, as well as write the overview. I spent a night sitting at my computer typing up my thoughts, but I was so exhausted from an insanely busy week that nothing of quality was appearing on my laptop. I ended up scrapping my outlines a couple of times, which was pretty abnormal for my typical writing style. Usually when I write my papers I am inspired from the start to confidently write about a certain topic and never change my mind, so this was a new and puzzling experience for me. I decided to put off the assignment another day, because I was wasting time and coming up with nothing useful.
I had originally planned to write an essay about The Awakening–I gathered evidence from the text that perhaps Edna was a lesbian, or that Robert Lebrun epitomized the male stereotype and that his irresistible masculinity (in some mysterious, somehow concoctedly related way) caused Edna’s suicide. However, I then realized that writing a feminist essay on The Awakening–an obviously feminist piece of literature–may not be the best idea, whereas it may not have been original enough.
The next day–after some well-needed sleep–I was suddenly cured of my writer’s block and came up with a new idea to write about Through the Looking Glass instead. This seemed more innovative, and when I first read the book I did not get much meaning from it, so I was open to analyzing it further. When reading it from a feminist perspective, I was able to see a lot of feminist theory by looking at the text in a completely new way. A feminist perspective would make sense, too, because Alice’s exploration of female identity in the sequel would complement her understanding of her maturing identity in the first novel. I thought this would be an interesting take, especially since I wrote my first essay on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in a close reading approach. Plus, I prefer to write about a novel that probably no one else in the class will select to keep it interesting. While I did enjoy Stop Kiss, I felt as though a lot of the thoughts I had about the novel I already shared in class. I guess that’s why you don’t show your cards too early!
I struggled to understand what the proposal was supposed to look like at first, so getting it done took me a while. After I got the outline finished and cleaned up with a definitive thesis and topic sentences, I then began to aimlessly determine how to write the abstracts, overview, and timeline. I went to the library in a rush to find quotes from feminist theory books on reserve to supplement my outline. From there I was able to quickly do the abstracts and overview, and finally turn in the proposal by sharing it on Google Drive to my professor! It was a long time coming, but I eventually got it done despite my crazy schedule ( I got a sudden request for an interview with the campus TV station in the middle of my writing, among other things).
After receiving peer review comments back from my class partner and professor, I bolstered my thesis to make a more accurate claim that better fit my outline and made a statement about the novel. After I finish writing a few abstracts from the Turn and Awakening criticisms for my Abstrracts blog, I can start writing my essay!
Overall, I am very excited to write this essay! I am feeling good about the class still, despite being with older students. It is exciting to be doing something I am passionate about, and getting good feedback from my professor and peers. I am amazed at what I am learning about myself, literature, and writing. Because of this class I have been inspired and am hoping to further pursue writing more in the future, beginning with getting a double emphasis in English.
To see my Feminist and Gender Essay Process Portfolio, click here.