Ok so looking back on the Paper 1 Assignment, I am a little amused at myself for having had so much difficulty comprehending and narrowing a focus for the paper. I think my problem is I have always been prompted very directly to write about such and such exactly the way I know everyone else should be writing it in class (like a regurgitation of information). To me (and probably others) this method is much simpler and comforting because there is less analytical prowess necessary and its not something you have to dwell on. In the end I found that after beating the same topics to a pulp in endless notes, if I had been more carefree and comfortable with the idea of an evolving thesis from the get-go, I would have had a much more interesting and probably much better paper in general. I am hoping I remember this experience for the future (paper 2 is just around the corner).
As for Red Sorghum, I had a hard time at first deciphering the Cultural Revolution allusions and allegories. Class really helped me to sort out some ideas I had started on, like the importance of individuals and community over national fervor for example. I enjoyed reading this account as an alternative to the historical text expected (and loathed by this point) in the history major. This part fictional account of Mo Yan’s ancestry was much easier to get caught up in – the novel itself was a page-turner. The analysis for me was more difficult because it is not a traditional source (much as the music we are investigating for this week is non-traditional to most historians).