You are strongly encouraged to come up with your own topic. In case you’re stuck, here are some prompts:
— The nonhuman dimension in Moby-Dick could be understood in religious terms, for instance, by way of Father Mapple’s sermon. It could also be understood in naturalistic terms, for instance, by way of the “Cetology” chapter. Each yields a different anatomy of the world. What are the claims and limits of each approach?
— “Human madness is oftentimes a cunning and most feline thing. When you think it fled, it may have but become transfigured into still subtler form…. The before living agent, now became the living instrument.” To what extent is madness an autonomous force in Melville’s novel, with a life of its own, independent of the human being that embodies it?
— Humble, everyday objects such as pipes and wheelbarrows have a special place in Moby-Dick. What does the novel look like seen through the lens of one of these objects?