You are strongly encouraged to come up with your own topics. In case you’re stuck, here are some prompts:
— Lithuania is a key counterpoint to Chicago in The Jungle, in a way that the Sieppes’ Switzerland does not appear to be in McTeague. Explore the varieties of “Old Worlds” seen through the lens of the new.
— One would have imagined McTeague to be about its eponymous hero. Why is its subtitle “A Story of San Francisco”? To what extent is San Francisco the protagonist in this novel, as Chicago is in The Jungle?
— Polk Street and Ashland Avenue are not just casual street names. They are social microcosms and cultural shorthands. How much do we learn about San Francisco and Chicago through these lenses?
— Secondary characters such as old Grannis and Miss Baker, Grandmother Majauszkiene and Master Freddie are interesting entry points to their respective novels. Why do Norris and Sinclair devote so much space and time to these characters?
— “You can’t make small of me” and “I will work harder” are signature phrases that define McTeague and Jurgis . What do they say about these characters, and about the fictional worlds they inhabit?