should use the rules and principles discussed above (and in class) to extract and
analyze a number
of potentially important scenes from Hotchner’s memoirs.
First, look for specific incidents involving an
affect (emotion, wish, etc.), an object (person, goal, etc.) and some kind of action,
interaction or transformation. If he reports them, they are probably of some
importance. But not all are equally important, nor do you have time or energy
enough to undertake a comprehensive analysis of every scene in the book! A
problem in dealing with a large mass of autobiographical material is identifying
the important stuff. What scenes in King
of the Hill matter? Once we get the number of scenes to manageable
proportions, it is easier to spot themes that unite ‘families’ of scenes. Useful
Irving Alexander’s salience indicators are
helpful. Primacy, frequency, uniqueness, and emphasis are probably the
easiest to apply.
The presence of strong affects and/or the
occurrence of dramatic changes in the affective tone, is a key indicator
that a scene ‘matters.’
You may want to begin with a set of about 20
scenes, drawn from throughout the book, Next, sort those scenes into ‘families,’ sets
of scenes that seem to share common themes. There is no strict rule here, but
you’ll probably find somewhere between 4 and 10 such ‘families’ or principal
‘themas’ expressed. Take notes as you go!
Next, analyze the scenes within each group.
You will probably find that a subset of them are the ‘juicy’ ones, expressing
the common theme in a richly elaborated way, while others are relatively
incomplete or limited. Feel free to focus on the most powerful ones, merely
citing the others as supportive evidence.
Identification of personal dispositions or qualities
expressed in the scene
Murray-style analysis of needs, press,
outcome (augmented by later work)
Consider the affects (and affective shifts),
complexity, and imagoes
What lessons or rules about life have been
drawn from the scene?
craft a verbal portrait of Hotchner
that draws upon the key memories as organized conceptually by you. Your goal is
to identify his central dispositions, salient needs and press, and/or nuclear
scripts. All of these amount to different approaches to the same underlying
ideas. Which vocabulary you prefer to use (e.g., Allport’s, Murray’s, or
Tomkins’) is up to you. But be sure to cite
specific scenes in support of your assertions.
As stated in the course syllabus, the essay should be
typed, double spaced, using a standard font (such as Times New Roman 12) with
1” margins all around. It should be about 6 – 7 pages (i.e., 1,500 – 1,750
words) long. It should be revised based on a consultation with a Writing
Associate (W.A.) in the Writing Center. You have some latitude as to how to
organize your essay, and also as to its content (there isn’t one ‘correct’
solution to this complex woman’s personality) – though it should reflect and
refer to the content of the memoirs (not wild speculation), and it should be a
psychological study (not purely biographical). The final essay should be
submitted electronically into the appropriate assignment slot on our class web
page. The annotated rough draft should be handed in physically. If you have
supporting documentation (e.g., notes on specific scenes), they may be handed
in as well. I will be interested to look them over.