Essay Handout

Please consider each of the following questions carefully. For your paper (typed, double spaced, normal margins, approximately five pages, stapled), select one of the following questions and respond to it; bring your typed paper to class on Thursday, November 20.

1. Many of the events of novels, plays and other stories (King Lear, Billy Budd, and others) are often reinforced or highlighted by natural and supernatural phenomena. Isolate three or four examples and discuss their interrelationship and their impact on any of the stories you have read this quarter.

2. Some of our stories have a strong element of conflict between parents and their children, or between parental figures and child figures. Focusing specifically on the stories you have read so far this quarter without leaning on your own family dynamics, discuss this conflict in theory (how it has been discussed) and practice (what you have read and seen in class).

3. Knowing the nature of archetypal characters and their portrayal in the performing arts is essential in the appropriate understanding of the artists’ intention. Select two archetypal characters from separate stories (two characters altogether) and contrast the way they move in the world, how they interact, and what makes them archetypal.

4. In some of the stories we have encountered so far this quarter, one or more characters succumbs to madness or acts the fool. What distinguishes madness from foolery? Use one example from King Lear and one from another story; do not neglect to mention the importance of the body in your discussion. Compare the two characters by considering both the creative intention and the manifestation of their madness/foolery.

5. What do music, dance and acting add to a story beyond simple visual or sensual spectacle? Specifically discuss all three elements of the performing arts in relation to several stories we have encountered this quarter. Focus on how they help to build a sense of cultural unity between members of a society.

6. Compare or contrast a theme of your choice in King Lear and Billy Budd, and integrate either a music or a dance “echo” of one of these themes to show us that you are thinking in an integrative, interdisciplinary way. Include citations from each work.

6. Discuss blindness and sight in our work so far. Take your discussion through the Coles video, lectures on sight and blindness in music, dance and theater, Oedipus, Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral,” etc.

Purpose of the assignment: to allow you the opportunity to go beyond the most basic historical and cultural background of the stories, and to cause you to explore further an area of interest to you personally. Keep in mind that an expository essay is very different from a "creative writing" assignment. This assignment is intended to give you the chance to "expose" a question.

How to start: first talk to your friends in the class, roommates, and yourself about what questions interest you. Draw up a rough outline of the ideas you might use for each one. See whether you have enough material to develop a five-page essay; if you do, gather your books, handouts, and especially your lecture notes together. Examine all the materials that you have.

Research: now that you have materials in front of you, start reading and taking notes. Always note where you are getting the information! I keep a set of index cards (at least one card per book, usually more) with the author's name and date at the top of the card and the page number next to the quoted passage. By keeping track of the page numbers, you can always go back and look for more information, or cite it directly and accurately in your essay, should you decide to use that particular information. Just be sure to keep track of the information in some coherent way because your essays must have a bibliography at the end.

Writing: start with the easiest part, the section you know the best and feel the most comfortable writing about. Expand in bits and pieces, filling out the information as it fits appropriately, and going back to your cards and original sources as you need them. You may reach the conclusion, in which case you can do some more filling in or proceed directly to the introduction, which should be your second-to-last step. Be sure your intro has an effective first sentence, a thesis statement that tells what you're going to say, and a little more information about how you're going to say it. Then proceed through your essay, offering background (contextual material) for your main points and making sure that it all leads logically to your conclusion. Your final step for your draft is to list the titles of books or articles you consulted: the bibliography. When you have completed the paper, bring it to the Writing Center. If you have proofread out loud several times (off computer) there should be only a few things to fix up with the help of WC consultants. Don't forget to ask them how your paragraphing works and whether your thesis and examples are clear.