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Visibility Assignment | Online Homework Help

Topic: (In)Visisbility Here’s the key question for the paper: In this paper, I want you to a) examine Rutherford’s strategies of visibility and invisibility: how and why is he invisible, and what finally propels him to visibility? and b) what are the consequences of his visibility and invisibility, not only for him as a person, but also for his understanding of America? (Note that in answering this question, you will be examining various characters’ frameworks for understanding self and nation.) ● Not all the characters are visible to each other, or if they are, they are seen in a particular way. This is the point in the parentheses: what we see, who we see, can often suggest the framework we use to view the world. In some ways, it can make our warrants clearer. ● The narrative—the way the story is told—allows the reader to see from multiple perspectives, and to judge the way the various characters behave—but within the world of the story, not everyone is seen and/or people are seen inaccurately. Rutherford exploits his (in)visibility, differently, with different characters, which is why I want you to choose a number of characters to discuss in the paper. ● You are to discuss the questions of (in)visibility in the novel—not for you as a reader. This means you will interpret the novel and support your interpretations with quotations which you will analyze. ● Note that the question assumes that Rutherford moves from invisibility to visibility. If you want to challenge that in your paper, that’s fine, just make your position clear. Either way, in your paper you must discuss the change in Rutherford. Let’s consider some examples of (in)visibility: SPOILER ALERT—these examples cover the entire novel. ● One way of thinking about Rutherford and Isadora: It could be argued that Isadora is invisible to Rutherford when she’s in New Orleans. He sees her as a crazy cat lady. It is not until she’s on the boat, and much thinner, that he notices her. Now, it’s up to you to decide if this is superficial or if part of the issue is how he himself has changed across the voyage. ● One way of thinking about Rutherford at the start of the novel: Literally, Rutherford practices a kind of ambivalent invisibility. By this I mean that when he is a thief, he must be invisible, yet he writes false letters (again, you could argue this makes him invisible) but he also sometimes defecates in the houses that he burgles. Here he is invisible, but he makes his presence visible. ● One way of thinking about Rutherford and Falcon: Rutherford exploits Falcon’s prejudices to keep his full self from being visible. Think about the section when Falcon decides, based on prejudice, that Rutherford’s not too smart and that he probably thinks he snuck on to a riverboat. Rutherford—the smartest character in the novel—feigns stupidity, allowing who he really is to hide beneath the surface of Falcon’s racism. Rutherford keeps his cleverness invisible to Falcon. The essay question also asks about strategies: think about the strategies Rutherford uses in each of the situations above. In a few cases, I’ve hinted at this (such as the last sentence in the paragraph above). Note that as I go through these examples, I am interpreting the novel and looking for the topic of (in)visibility in certain characters and situations. That is what I want you to do, but I want you to find your own focus of interest, which will help direct what you look for and how you interpret the novel. I’ve written on the site that I want you to be able to find your own interests in a topic. That is why I write the prompts I do. The common criticism of my prompts is that they’re vague. If you’re used to prompts that tell you exactly what to do and what to discover, I can understand how someone could think that. However, my warrant is that you’re all unique, and so to force you to write a very specific paper about something you may not care about forces you into a particular way of viewing things. Instead, I try to come up with topics that you can interpret in a number of ways. You might not be very interested in (in)visibility, but what happens when you think about something you might be interested in? ● For instance, look at the examples above. If you’re interested in the status of women, you could explore Rutherford and Isadora and how and when they are visible to each other. ● If you’re interested in racist denials of visibility—in other words, not seeing particular people—you could look at Rutherford and Falcon. As a point of contrast, you could look at Rutherford and Cringle. ● If you’re interested in religion, you could look at the Allmuseri god and its odd visibility: it’s in a box, which suggests it is visible, and when people interact with it, they all come out differently. Rutherford has been raised by a minister. He understands Christian theology. How, then, does he come to interact with the god? ● Interested in politics? How about looking at how Rutherford interacts with the ship, which is paradoxically always intact—always visible—but as Cringle tells us, it’s always being remade. How does this get us to politics? The ship is called the Republic, which is what the United States is. ● and so on—start with your interests and move from there. Maybe you want to travel to learn about new places. Isn’t that what Rutherford does in moving from Illinois to New Orleans and then stowing away on the ship? Part B of the prompt: Following from this last point about the ship as the Republic, there are many passages where various characters think about what America is and how we interact with each other. This is the second bolded question. Think of Papa and his discussion of the Social Wheel early on in the novel. Falcon and Rutherford talk about America, from two distinctly different perspectives. The Allmuseri have been enslaved in body and in language: as they speak with Rutherford and as Rutherford learns their language, he learns, quite literally, a different way of being. What happens to those people across the journey? As you work through your ideas in your paper, you must have some clear examples to support your ideas about Rutherford’s understanding of America, but I hope the question helps you think through your own ideas about America, about who and what is visible, at what cost, and why? Finally, a quick word about the outside sources: I want you to find an ARTICLE using the Luria Library database (not Google scholar—there are journals that are only available using the library). Go to SBCC.edu. Go to the Luria Library. Click. Go to Databases in the box that pops up. Select JSTOR (not available on Google), and then type in Johnson and the novel’s name. Keep working through various search terms, if you don’t come up with much. Do NOT type in “middle passage” since that is the name of the journey in addition to the novel, and you will be swamped with articles. This is the first required article. You have wider choice for the second required article, and I’d like you to choose something you’d like to know about, something you realize, as you write your paper, that you don’t know enough about. Maybe you decide you need to know more about the illegal slave trade (and what they are doing is illegal—the external slave trade is outlawed at the time of their journey). Or maybe you want to know about African gods. Or maybe you decide you want to know more about the various groups of people in New Orleans. You choose what you want to know about. Work that information into your paper.


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