For your Sister Carrie project, I’d like you to think about these four major themes in the book: Consumerism, Theater, Personality vs Character, and Class Anxiety. For these four themes there are four different projects, each asking you to draw connections from SC to current events through written and/or video projects.
The goal of this project is to have you you consider how many of the major issues that SC is about are still alive and relevant to the ongoing debate over our national identity.
Consumerism is the culture that encourages us to always buy more, want more, and need more. This need drives the characters to always be looking down the road for the next ‘step up.’ Whether it’s new clothes, a new suit, or an expensive cigar and a whiskey, the what is not important as long ‘what next?’ All these items are a means to an ends to get the next big thing, be seen at the next new restaurant, and meet the right people.
With that in mind, in a 3 page paper, I’d like you to select a character from SC and select a product. The product you select can be anything from an iPad to a brand of cigars; that is, it can be anything from modern-day to something contemporary to the time of the novel.
Your goal is to convince your character to do a “celebrity endorsement” for your product. Using their own quotes from the novel you will attempt to convince them why they should use their good name to sell your junk. You would eventually come to the conclusion of whether your character agrees to let you use their name or not; of course, with an appropriate explanation of why or why not.
I’d like you to think about theater and what it means in SC. In the novel the idea of theater is more than just being able to act for a play, it’s being able to assume the traits of those around you and put the best face on those qualities in order to succeed or fit in. So with that in mind, what is something we’ll all have to do that involves glossing over our faults and putting the best face on our strengths? A resume. For this project, select a character and write a resume for them. This resume will be no longer than 2 pages with an accompanying 2 page cover letter. What I’ll be looking for is a critical analysis of your selected character using examples from the book.
Here’s an example resume I made for Walt Whitman.
As for the cover letter, I’ll be looking for you to demonstrate a knowledge of the character’s traits and flaws, illustrated with examples from the book, and show how the resume is actually an act of theater by highlighting strengths and covering up flaws. Think of addressing these questions in your cover letter: What are your greatest strengths and your greatest flaws?
3. Personality vs. Character
For this project I’d like choose a character and make a campaign ad for them as if they were running for president. The idea would be to make a 2 min video and post it to Youtube and the motherblog. What I’ll be looking for in this video is for you to highlight your character’s Character while at the same time pointing out the flaws of the other characters’ Personality. Use quotes from the characters to make your argument. The idea is to show how, especially in politics, this theme is essentially what campaigning is all about. Accompanying your video would be a 2 page written press release detailing the points you made in your video.
4. Class Anxiety
Class Anxiety is one of the driving forces behind all the action in SC It causes Carrie to be aware of how unhappy she is, and causes her to desire a more financially stable life. It causes Drouet to be exactly aware of his place in relation to others with money, and because of that awareness makes him a excellent salesman.
In a 3 page paper, choose a character and write an essay detailing their support, or opposition to the Occupy Wall Street Movement. This essay would show evidence that the you are familiar with the characters and their worldview, and would demonstrate this with quotes from the text, and critical analysis supporting your thesis.