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Writing Process Reflection for Research on Angela Carters The Magic Toyshop

I loved Angela Carters The Magic Toyshop from the moment I finished the first
page, and I think I finished reading the novel within a day. Prior to taking Dr. Fairhalls
class on the Modern British Novel, I had never heard of Angela Carter, but once I started
reading her I was instantly enthralled. I love her way with language, her play with
allusions, and her ambiguous towards both her plotlines and her characters. I knew that
this was the book I would focus on for my final writing for Dr. Fairhalls course, and my
work with the novel has prompted a love affair with the rest of her work as well. My final
essay on The Magic Toyshop has gone through several stages at this point. After
submitting the original essay for my class, I revisited it in the spring in preparation for
presenting it at the DePaul English Conference. I started this revision as I was finishing
up my work in Dr. Dietzs Grammar for Teachers class, which gave me an entirely new
perspective on approaching my own writing. Using my analysis of my own sentence
patterns, I went back over the essay and produced a much tighter and syntactically varied
version, and my sentence-level revisions led me to focus on the overall unity of the essay.
Dr. Fairhall had also pointed out some additional critical material for me to research,
which allowed me to open up my analysis with some further support.
When I began planning out what I wanted to include in this portfolio, I knew I
wanted to include this piece as an example of my skills as a critical reader. However, in
the year since I last worked on the piece, I have read a considerable amount more both of
Carters work and of criticism about her work, and as I approached my essay again I
found I was no longer as happy with it as I had originally been. Although I thought it was
still a strong close reading, I questioned whether much about my essay was bringing
anything new to the body of critical work on Carter. My essay was also lacking in its
discussion of the latter half of the novel, even though, as I reread the book, those last key
scenes actually should have been the most revelatory for my work.
I found my new approach as I began re-reading my favorite elements of theory in
preparation for working on this portfolio. My essay already took a feminist approach, but
its initial stages relied more heavily on the analysis of other critics than of my direct work
with theory, so I dove into work by Simone de Beauvoir and Judith Butler to begin
informing my analysis. Much of that research worked its way into this final draft, some
of it directly and some indirectly. While this helped flesh out some of my ideas, I still felt
that I wasnt making a terribly original argument about the novel. When I began reading
Mikhail Bakhtins Rableais and his World as background theory for my Medieval
Literature course, I felt like the pieces of my argument finally fell into place. I had
considered the idea of the carnivalesque in my original essay, but only briefly mentioned
it in terms of the carnivalesque desecration of the symbols of Uncle Philips tyranny
towards the novels end. As I read Bakhtin, however, I saw connections to almost every
point in the novel, and I began thinking about how Carter played with the history of
Bakhtins idea of the carnival. Seeing these connections was intimidating, as I knew that
approaching the essay with a new thesis would require massive retooling throughout the
piece. Branching out and exploring the novel through Bakhtin (whose work, while
exciting, was not something I felt terribly comfortable with) required an entirely new
layer of thinking about the novel, and substantial amounts of entirely new writing. As the
essay stands now, I am proud of what I have accomplished with my revision. However,
my work on novel also left me thinking about how much more work I could do. I believe
my journey with Angela Carter has only just begun; although I think it was necessary for
my process to approach the novel as a whole first, my next move with this novel will
hopefully be to produce several focused articles honing in on the roles specific motifs
play in the novel.