It's Not Monday, but I Hate Garfield.

It’s Not Monday, but I Hate Garfield. (Jerz’s Literacy Weblog)

I started writing this as an example, on the paper of a student who put a bit of plot analysis in the spot where an academic thesis should have been. While this isn’t quite as good as the story of J.R.R. Tolkien writing down the opening of The Hobbit on the back of a student paper, I still thought the result was worth sharing.

A lit crit paper uses scholarly sources to support a non-obvious claim. What you’ve presented as a claim is really data taken from plot events. It’s a bit like saying “’Garfield’ is a comic strip about a fat cat who loves lasagna.” Of course that’s what “Garfield” is.

But I’d much rather read a paper that argues, “’Garfield,’ a comic strip that began in the late 70s (the “me decade”) and became wildly popular during the consumerist 80s, takes a lightly satirical approach to American suburbia’s self-centered complacency, obesity, and social dysfunction. While many Americans happily enjoy the inoffensive, bland humor of the Garfield comic strip, when compared to the biting social commentary of Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”) or the contemporary realistic approach of Lynn Johnston (“For Better or For Worse”), creator Jim Davis appears little more than a merchandising master, whose staff of hired writers and artists supply new material for the character while Davis himself spends most of his time negotiating business licenses. Far from satirizing weaknesses in the American psyche, “Garfield” is a prime example of the mediocrity and anti-intellectualism that American pop culture celebrates.”

Woah.. I had to go to Wikipedia to find some material for that, but you see what I mean – I exaggerated just a bit, but now I’ve probably gotten your attention.