March 5, 2007 1:36 PM   Subscribe

Calling MeFi literati: What's a good (easy) thesis for an essay on The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides?

I need to write a 2000 word essay on The Virgin Suicides, which requires at least one external source.
The thing is, I can usually hammer out a 1K word essay, but 2K would need twice as much support, and seems daunting. I'm very strapped for time these days, so I'm looking for a subject/point which is relatively easy to prove and has lots of available support information from external sources.

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated (':>
posted by Count to Education (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
how is: "The Parody, Pastiche and Postmodernism of American Teens in Fiction: The Virgin Suicides."
posted by parmanparman at 1:46 PM on March 5, 2007

Response by poster: cheaping out on that is very, very bad indeed.
I was just hoping ask MeFi could help kick-start my imagination on a topic that won't be too difficult to write 2000 words about.
posted by Count at 1:54 PM on March 5, 2007

Best answer: Honestly, the only theses that are easy to write on are the ones you actually believe. If you're bullshitting, every sentence is a struggle. Go to the bar with a few classmates, get in a drunken argument about the book, and then write whatever point you found yourself arguing.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:00 PM on March 5, 2007

I would do a comparison of Trip Fontaine and Monsieur Homais from Madame Bovary.
posted by ND¢ at 2:00 PM on March 5, 2007

1. "Good" rarely equals "easy"
2. Do yer own homework (being "strapped for time" is not a justification for asking others to do your homework for you)
3. A 2000 word essay is not twice as hard as a 1000 word essay; in fact, it's often easier to write longer than shorter. Since you claim to be stuck on the length, proceed the same way you would for a 1000 word essay, and when you finish see where you're at. Add or subtract as necessary.
posted by agent99 at 2:01 PM on March 5, 2007 [3 favorites]

Well, you could read Middlesex (also by Jeffrey Eugenides), use that as your external source, and you've got the chance to study a couple of the best novels from the last few years. Your essay could be a comparison of the two - I can't imagine you'd find it too tricky to find a couple of thousand words to write about that...
posted by minifig at 2:02 PM on March 5, 2007

Best answer: how about finding the original short story - I believe it was in Paris Review, maybe 1989 or 1990. See how Eugenides expanded the story, filled it out and turned it into a novel. Just one scene's difference from story to novel is an easy 2k words. Been a long time since I read either, but I do remember being much more impressed with the short story. Now, you would have to hunt down a copy of the short...
posted by rhymesinister at 2:13 PM on March 5, 2007

Here's a fun one that I would do: "Critic B.R. Myers, in his A Reader's Manifesto, complains that the modern novel, as typified by Annie Proulx, Cormac McCarthy, is hobbled by overly precious writing and pretentious literary devices. Does Eugenides's work transcend the complaints that Myers has about the modern bestseller table? If so, how?"
posted by Kirklander at 2:23 PM on March 5, 2007

Best answer: OK, Thinking again, how's about reading Running Wild by JG Ballard as your secondary source. It's short, and great (and easy). You could then easily fill 2000 words talking about adolescence and containment and control between the two books. You could also cover the notions of reportage and the trustworthiness of narrators. Should keep you going for a while...
posted by minifig at 2:29 PM on March 5, 2007

Best answer: how about finding the original short story - I believe it was in Paris Review, maybe 1989 or 1990.

Paris Review #117 (Winter, 1990).

Are you familiar with your library's online databases? I'd suggest going to FirstSearch or ArticleFirst and typing "Virgin Suicides" into the keyword field. You will get some secondary academic sources that way that might kickstart your imagination. Or do a Google Books search to find books that cite Eugenides' book.
posted by mattbucher at 2:36 PM on March 5, 2007

Response by poster: This is great! I've got some interesting resources to look at.
I noticed that the short story also appears in "The Paris Review Book: Of Heartbreak, Madness, Sex, Love, Betrayal..." which is at my local library, so I think I'm going to check that out, as well as "Running Wild". They both look brief, so I won't be pressed for reading time.
Good point nebulawindphone:
the only theses that are easy to write on are the ones you actually believe
I'm sure that between the two resources, I'll find a good comparative argument that I believe in.
Thanks for all the people who made suggestions.

For those who told me to do my own homework: I asked for inspirational suggestions, not presumptuous ridicule. Please don't post here if you're not going to help answer the question.
posted by Count at 3:16 PM on March 5, 2007

For inspiration Sparknotes study guide of Virgin Suicides. It examines themes, symbols and motifs in the book.
posted by barrakuda at 3:32 PM on March 5, 2007

When you say external source, do you mean a secondary source (say, a scholarly article about _The Virgin Suicides_)? If so, you might work backwards: use your school's library databases (I'd try JSTOR first) of literary criticism, see what's out there on the book, then find an article you can agree or disagree with. This may help you find a topic.

I am an ex-English lit grad student.
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:38 PM on March 5, 2007

compare it to the movie.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:15 PM on March 5, 2007

You asked for a thesis you could defend. That's not "asking for inspiration." That's asking others to do your homework, and if I were your professor and found out you had done this and actually used one of the better suggestions above (and I am a professor), I'd fail you in the class. Period.

It may seem harmless to you. But there's a reason you put your own name on a paper, and on your transcript. You deserve the callouts in this thread.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:14 AM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

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