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IDS 101.04:

Decisions, Decisions

First Writing Assignment:

Character Analysis



The Assignment


In White Noise Don DeLillo presents us with several characters, including:


Jack Gladney





Murray Jay Siskind

Willie Mink

Howard Dunlop


Alfonse Stompanato


Choose one character, and write a ‘Chapter’ in DeLillo’s style in which your chosen character, staying fully in recognizable form (though you can and should add wrinkles), visits a local therapist of indeterminate qualifications.  Your chapter should consist primarily of the dialogue between the character and therapist, as well as the thoughts of the therapist, though a limited amount of necessary action is fine too.  Your chapter should then be followed by the ‘Diagnostic Notes of the Therapist’, in which the therapist makes an argument about the decision-making of the character.  That is, the therapist should state an over-arching diagnostic claim about your character and prediction about how that character will develop over time, offer from three to five reasons for this diagnosis, each of which is corroborated with evidence from what the character did or said in the interview or the novel to this point.  In the Notes, and specifically the therapist’s claim, reasons, and predictions, you should also try to expressly incorporate some of Dan Ariely’s many concepts and claims about our predictable irrationalities from Predictably Irrational.  Your overarching goal is to demonstrate an awareness of the complexity of human decision-making. 


Have some fun with this!




Dialogue Chapter should be 5-6pp double-spaced (1650 words approx.)

Diagnostic Notes should be 4-5 pp double-spaced (1350 words approx.)

Paper total should be 10 pp double-spaced maximum (3000 words max)


Rough Draft Due: Friday, 20 September 2013 (9am, uploaded to WISE)

Final Draft Due: Monday, 23 September 2013 (9am, uploaded to WISE)


The Grading Rubric


The assignment will be evaluated and given feedback using the following considerations:


Content (70)




Chapter Narrative: (30)




- Consistent (10)




- Realistic (10)




- Revealing (10)








Diagnostic Notes: (40)




- Quality of main claim (10)




- Clarity of reasons (10)




- Salience of evidence (10)




- Plausibility of predictions (10)








Form (30)




Writing throughout: (30)




- Typographically correct (10)




- Grammatically correct (10)




- Stylistically DeLilloesque (10)








Total (100)





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