ever see the one about Porky Pig and the anarchist?"
She had, as a matter of fact, but she said no.
"The anarchist is dressed all in black. In the dark you can only see his eyes. It dates from the 1930's. Porky Pig is a little boy."
--Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49
O.K., so: it's college, and you have to write a paper on The Crying of Lot 49. Shall we project a world? At the very least, I'd like a typed, double-spaced essay of no more than 5 pages that follows the conventions of college writing and MLA formatting. Your paper must be based primarily on Pynchon's novel, and it must incorporate at least one quotation from Kahane and Cavender's Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric. After that, anything goes. Please write to a general audience, keeping in mind the goal that your essay is to be published for a general college-level audience.
Here are some starter questions, but don't feel limited or restricted by the phrasing:
1) It goes almost without saying that Oedipa Maas is faced with an "either/or" choice at several moments in the novel. Using thematic and textual evidence from the novel, do you believe that this is a false dilemma? Why or why not? What are the ramifications of your answer for the novel as a whole? (Note: you might want to look closely at Kahane and Cavender's advice for circumventing false dilemmas.)
2) Define and explain Kahane and Cavender's distinction between cognitive and emotive language, noting especially the importance of this distinction for argument and reason. Then analyze Oedipa's (or another character's) decision-making process. Are there any times where emotive language blurs or distorts her ability to reason effectively? What implications does this potential problem have for the novel as a whole?
3) Using Kahane and Cavender's method for analyzing and evaluating long arguments, write an evaluation of Pynchon's reasoning in his essay "Is it O.K. to be a Luddite?" As you assess his points, show your reader how your thesis might have some bearing on ways to approach The Crying of Lot 49. (Please do not choose this topic if you wrote about the Pynchon essay and Frankenstein.)
4) In a way, Pynchon's novel could be seen as the story of its main character undergoing a major shift in worldview. Using (of course) Kahane and Cavender's definition of worldview, explain the possible changes taking place, using evidence from the text. Explain also the thematic importance of these changes. (Note: if you wrote on worldviews in a previous essay, then choose another topic.)
5) Find one moment in the text where a logical or rhetorical fallacy is committed and use it to define and explain the error in reasoning. Does this error affect the rest of the novel? Explain.
6) Is Oedipa's quest more inductive or deductive, according to Kahane and Cavender's definitions of these terms? Explain and explore the thematic implications of your answer.
7) Open topic. Please submit a working thesis to me before writing in earnest.
This essay is due in class on Tuesday,