The first version of this paper I turned in, I felt like it was bad. A conference with my professor helped me see that while it did have problems, the paper was worth continued revision. Today we have our second revision due, and I'm feeling a bit more confident. Yes, it still has holes. Yes, I still need to do more research and include more information. But the structure of the paper itself is sound, and I feel that that the writing is much more polished.
I'm writing about Matthew Lewis' Gothic novel, The Monk. I was initially intrigued by all of the male friendships in the book, but when I started to research, I discovered that most critics are more concerned with the homoeroticism that the novel contains. I personally didn't feel that The Monk contained much homoeroticism; I believe most critics fixate on Lewis' closeted homosexuality and read it into his work. Thus, I asserted that the real focus was on the homosocial (see Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick), and that Lewis dedicates much of his energy to showing us how male friendships work and how the lack of them can lead a man into depravity. As a woman, I find the whole concept extremely fascinating. (I thought it was pretty interesting in Tolkien too--lots of male friendships in The Lord of the Rings.)
Though, I have to wonder as a heterosexual female if I'm dismissing the effects Lewis' sexuality would have on his art. My assertion is not that it's completely absent; rather, that it surfaces in the gender inversions and sexual ambiguities that pervade the novel. I just don't see any evidence of eroticism in the interactions between the male characters.
Luckily, I'm still fond of this paper and am eager to add more to it. The end product (due October 22nd) needs to be between 19-30 pages; my current draft is 15.