Pastiche & Defense

In a nutshell, a “pastiche” is a stylistic imitation of another text. You will, therefore, choose a passage or a definable structure in one of the works we are reading, (it must be in our textbook — don’t use the sample I use below) and write your own fragmentary or miniature version. This need not be longer than a page or two. Also, notice that in a sense you will “copy” the original, but since you are changing content and overall form, it is not at all “plagiarism.” You will have broad creative latitude in the design and direction of your pastiche. I will not directly grade the Pastiche (imitation) itself (though it must be “sincerely attempted”). Instead, I will grade the accompanying Defense: a description of the process you followed, and of the outcome. Use these bullet points in developing your Defense (perhaps one paragraph per bullet point):
A detailed explanation of your choice for the primary text you have imitated
A definition of the particular elements you tried to imitate
A description of the creative process you followed
An account of the challenges you encountered, and how you dealt with them
Your own opinion of the resulting imitation
A summary of the resulting insights regarding the primary work, and creative effort in general
Put a page break (ctrl + Enter in MS Word) after your pastiche, then start the Defense on a new page. Put both in the same file. The Defense should be around 600 words, minimum.
Take a look at the sample Pastiche & Defense assignments I have provided.
Essentially, this is an exercise in analysis, but from a different angle. You need to identify specific formal and thematic characteristics of a text. But then, you will attempt to transfer a few of them to a text of your own creation.
Take a look at how Virgil “copies” from Homer, for starters. Also look at the lyric poems by Marlowe and Raleigh on pages 2046 – 47.
Then, look at a poem like “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden. Among many other characteristics, it presents a male speaker who tells of a father, somewhat strict and disciplined, with whom the speaker, now probably an adult and the father perhaps dead, had a troubled, uncommunicative relationship. You can create a poem that will also remember back to a recurring, that is, a habitual, experience with your father or mother, or a grandparent, or some other authority figure (you can vary the basic elements); you will perhaps try as well to capture the split consciousness: the earlier lack of appreciation, the present tone of regret; and you might also carry over some of the other, more formal devices: the use of sounds to capture some psychological aspect of the person or situation (notice the “k” sounds in the Hayden poem), or the concluding question (“What did I know, what did I know?”) that also includes some key word of double significance (“office,” that is partly religious and partly about the disciplined, dutiful matters the son remembers of his father. Everything else in your poem will be your own, although you might perhaps borrow elements from yet another poem or story.
But there is a great deal of flexibility (that is, creativity and responsibility) in the way you choose what elements to imitate. You could imitate, or even copy verbatim, a crucial (or concluding, or
initiating) line or two from a text, but change almost everything else. From Hayden’s poem, you might borrow only the memory of a recurring domestic experience, and perhaps the regretful (or other emotional) rhetorical question at the end. But your speaker might be the father, or the wife, or an outside observe — that’s up to you. We don’t even need to see overt connections between your text and the primary, imitated text — although I expect you to let me know in your defense what text you worked from. Many writers start by imitating a beloved (or a challenging, or infuriating) primary text, and end up with something no longer recognizable as a pastiche at all. All writers would most likely trace at least some aspects of their writing, and many of their works, to something they read and were struck by (positively as well as negatively).
If you work with a story, most likely your piece will be fragmentary, or at least a short-short story. You might focus on a passage demonstrated dialogue, character description, climactic confliction, interior monologue, setting of scene, or something else specific. But again, the choice is yours.
Grade Criteria: The grade will be based on how well your write, and on how fully and insightfully you present the description of your process in the Defense. You should submit the finished Pastiche and Defense as one file electronically via the “Assignments” tool on the Eagle Online web site. No late submissions will be accepted unless you communicate with me and receive approval. I recommend saving your work regularly as you work on the computer; print out a hard copy for yourself when you submit the project to me.