Directions: In the first 3 chapters of Lois Tyson’s book, Critical Theory Today

In the first 3 chapters of Lois Tyson’s book, Critical Theory Today, she applies psychoanalytic, Marxist, and feminist criticism to The Great Gatsby. For many of you, watching Tyson work her theoretical magic (even if you disagree with her perspective) on Gatsby was cool and all, but perhaps you never read Gatsby, or perhaps you missed the movie when it was on Netflix. Either way, one cannot deny the cultural impact (good or bad) Fitzgerald’s novel has had on the world. It has been published in 42 different languages since it was first published in 1925. It has maintained renowned worldwide success as one of the most influential novels of the 20th century.
So, now is your chance to apply the first three lenses to The Mosquito Coast. Everything is fresh. Even if you have read TMC, watched the film adaptation, or even caught the TV series on Apple TV, I think it is a great text to use in order to get some practice with applying theory to texts. Like TGG for Tyson, TMC for me is a text with which I am extremely familiar. I wrote extensively about TMC in graduate school, and I studied Paul Theroux and other late 20th century novelists as part of my graduate degree. I am not trying to sound pretentious. If you were wondering why I chose TMC, this is my reasoning. As for you as the writer of this essay, finding your why for this essay is equally important.
Please watch my video below:
Helpful Lecture on Essay 1
(Links to an external site.)
Recaps from the video:
Avoid being “form-first” in your approach (if you use the 5-paragraph essay ALL of the time, time to dump it)
A more organic approach can be beneficial. You know you will be applying psychoanalysis, Marxism, and feminism to The Mosquito Coast. So instead of thinking about 3 body paragraphs, think of them as three body sections. There is no telling how many potential paragraphs will be in these sections, so why confine yourself to a single body paragraph per theory? Don’t worry about intros and conclusions yet. Use backward design.
Intros: students struggle with them. In my video, I discuss one way to introduce your topic, so you don’t continue to sound like you are in English classes writing essays for a single audience member. I want to invite second-semester college composition students to begin thinking about your audience in a larger context. For instance, one way to get started is to ask yourself, if I were writing to a bus filled with strangers, why would I be writing about The Mosquito Coast and theory? If you answer “because I am enrolled in a class and the professor asked me to” then you’re not thinking about writing as a rhetorical situation–you are still thinking about writing as an evaluative assessment tool used by teachers to see if you learned something or not. You still see writing as a transaction. That’s not writing.
Real writing considers the audience’s needs, and from there the writer is the teacher. The writer’s job is to inform. But before you go writing introductions, consider the question: Why am I writing about a 40-year-old novel? Again, it’s not just because you are in an English class and that I assigned it. That may be true, but it’s not the best way to hook your readers.
Conclusions: I always say the best advice I can give for writing conclusions for essay 1 in a second-semester college comp. class is this: Don’t just summarize what you’ve already said. Tell us why what you’ve said matters. Try this,
“In conclusion, analyzing a 40 year old novel that recently has been adapted for Apple TV matters because______________________________________________.” Just fill in the blank to get started. Trust me, you’ll discover how to craft a very effective why it matters conclusion when you read Tyson’ feminsint application essay on The Great Gatsby.