Research Paper SLADE HOUSE htm.html
Dr. Olson, English 1302        The Research Paper Topics
Directions:    Choose to discuss one of the topics below. You are explaining to us things we ignored, are not aware of, or did not understand on our first reading of  Slade House.
Tips:   Avoid rewriting a biography of the author and avoid summarizing the plot.
            Consult and correctly document secondary sources where they can help enlarge, defend, or give contrast to your close reading of the novel. Be sure to avoid the most elementary sources like, say, Webster’s Dictionary and Wikipedia. Use Wikipedia as a source and the paper will fail: it is an unstable source, changing daily and sometimes the editors are uninformed, and the data is dead wrong. However, also remember I am most interested in your own meditations on these problems, so do not broadcast so many thoughts from critics that I cannot see your mind at work.
            Use the computer catalog to find relevant critical books in the Library and consult Databases to locate needed articles and interviews in literary journals, along with doing a Google Scholar search for any more. (Even the free “Look Inside” feature at, and sometimes Barnes&, has let me find a
chapter or two that was very helpful to my research, especially if our library system doesn’t have the book, and if our Inter Library Loan partners do not, either. The database ProQuest and others may have some helpful articles, and you can access this from home by logging into our Lone Star library.
            If we don’t proofread your finished paper a couple times before submitting it, leaving behind lots of grammar, MLA format, and flow problems, the paper will probably get a “D or “F.” For instance, be sure to give credit to sources the right way, introduce them with smoothness, and use correct form as you list them on the Works Cited.  Don’t get lazy and let sloppy form steal your credibility and sour your grade.
Length:          Minimum of seven typed pages, the works cited page being the seventh. (12 point font, with margins of one inch each, and numbered pages.)
Due Date:      See Syllabus
1.   Motive
            Many critics find a problem to write on by recalling decisions and actions that seem most puzzling, contradictory, or inexplicable, even after a second or third reading of the work. Try this technique: What five or more thoughts, remarks, and actions remain the greatest mysteries in Slade House, and how do you explain them?
            Survey what at least five critics or reviewers say to explain these unexpected and inconsistent thoughts and motives from characters, citing at least one critic per mystery. Where do you agree with critics, where do you disagree with them and why, and where do you find new interpretations for what characters do and say?
2.   Weird Houses & Weirder People (two parts within the paper)
a)     Compare Slade House with either two novels or two films where weird attacks or carnivorous acts against people go on by “inhuman humans.”
Explain through quotations from these other works how Jonah and Norah are like  
other “inhuman human” protagonists in major ways, and how they are unlike these protagonists in other ways.  What people from at least three works (real or fictional)  do these siblings most evoke? How, in language/acts/thoughts, do they resemble these characters, and why?
b)    Now in the second half of a paper, become less of a reporter and more of a critic: which novel best uses place (like a hotel, a cave, an old house) as a character itself? Which novel has the greatest storytelling ability, with the most developed or intriguing characters, plots and ironies and twists, symbols, style, and language?
A number of sites meditate on such books, movies, and art:

Writing From an Alien POV


Otherworldly Perspective: 5 Science Fiction Novels Written From an Alien’s Point of View by Oliver Thiermann


Are You Writing Believable Non-Human Characters?
3.   The Uncanny
Read some sources about “The Uncanny.” Describe all the areas of Slade House that seem uncanny to you. Which upsets you the most?
David Mitchell has said something revealing about the Uncanny in an interview with his publisher (available at Maybe many of his books are about proportion and insanity at their deeper levels:
“If something is going to come and get you, a vampire, a monster, it’s not very nice, but it’s kind of ripping the life out of you, it’ll be over pretty quickly . . . it’s not that bad. But the idea that you can no longer trust your mind, that’s just about the most frightening thing there is. When you mess around with proportion or symmetry, or when doubt is injected into your perception of the laws of physics, your mind ceases to be a refuge. Your mind is no longer a safe house.”
4.   Symbols
Go on a symbol treasure hunt in this book. What objects vibrate with the darkest symbolic meanings and why? Be sure to consult and quote from symbol dictionaries to show what these objects tend to mean in the British culture where they are placed.
5. Shared Universe
Compare the Shared Universe of characters, motives/hungers/drives, and situations from a couple David Mitchell novels to another creator’s art … from Stan Lee to Stephen King. What is fascinating, spirited, memorable, weird, or fantastic?

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