The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town by John Grisham. This MUST be analytically driven work. Ideally, you will strive to organize your work around a central claim about the novel. You MUST aim to do more than merely summarize the plot of the book. You MUST aim to try to put the work in its cultural and historical context. You SHOULD also strive to understand how the structuring of power in the book shapes it overall. Because this is a multimodal presentation, you MUST aim to use the tools at your disposal in effective and sophisticated ways. Simply slapping together some powerpoint and summarizing the novel will garner, at best, a C.
Research and Citation
This assignment does not require that you do research, but many of you may find it useful to do some research. If you find material that helps illuminate the work and helps you refine your ideas, that’s great! Make sure to give these authors the credit they deserve by making it clear when you are using their ideas.
The focus of your presentation is on analytical engagement with the novel. In the process of your analysis, you will want to make sure to include the following elements:
Characterize the detective hero as he/she relates to the kinds of detective heroes we’ve discussed this term.
Place the novel in its cultural and historical context by discussing the setting of the novel and pertinent information about the author’s background.
Summarize elements of the plot, to they extent that they help inform your arguments related to the above issues. This is not a book summary or a “book report.” Work that only or mostly summarizes the plot of the novel typically receives, at best, a B.
Use the following list of questions to generate ideas for grounding your presentation in critical engagement. I do not necessarily expect you to answer all of these questions in your work. The goal here is to give you an idea of what kinds of things you might consider as you work.
Who is the detective hero? Can she be characterized easily as one of the types of detective heroes we’ve discussed? How so or why not? What, if anything, distinguishes this hero from other examples we’ve seen in this category? What social attitudes does this hero possess and how might that relate to the novel’s cultural and historical context?
What social, cultural, or political concerns might this novel be overtly or implicitly addressing? Are there particular social dynamics that are specific to the context of the novel? How do these dynamics shape who has power and how they use it? Are there, for example, social dynamics that made the victim(s) powerless and vulnerable? Are there ways in which the author strives to get us to understand the criminals point of view?
How does this novel work as an example of detective fiction? Are there any major departures from what you have come to expect of this genre? Does it ever push against expectations?
You may be tempted to talk about whether or not you “like” the novel. DON’T! Instead, try to develop a more nuanced critical framework. What works and doesn’t here? Where? Why? How? Your emotional response to the work (whether or not you “like” it) is usually a good way to acknowledge where to do critical work, but don’t start and end just by talking about what you like.