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  • From: Languages, English
  • Due on: Wed 08 Oct, 2014 (05:54pm)
  • Asked on: Tue 07 Oct, 2014
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Building on the close-reading and interpretive skills required for the first essay, Essay #2 will require you to develop your own thesis and then to make an argument based on that thesis using close-reading of at least two or more passages from a selected text. For this assignment, students will select one of the works listed below and use close-reading analysis to demonstrate how evidence from the text supports a clear thesis argument. Remember that a thesis is a statement that your essay asserts as true (you make a claim) but that requires proof (through textual analysis) that it is true. Summary or opinion without substantive literary analysis is not interpretation, and therefore not proof of an argument.


It has been said that "empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself" (Mohsin Hamid). It has also been suggested that "evil is the absence of empathy" (John Connolly). What is significant about having the ability to connect empathetically with someone else? What are the consequences when a character is unable to make such a connection or deliberately refuses to do so? Do those consequences affect merely the individual who lacks empathy? Or do the consequences extend to an entire society? What do such examples in literature suggest to us as readers about the importance of exercising empathy?


For this essay, you will make a thesis driven argument on how a lack of empathy significantly impacts how one character understands (or misunderstands) another character and what the consequences are for that character(s) or the world that character inhabits.


For example:  In Akutagawa's "Rashomon," what prevents the servant from empathizing with the old woman? What are the consequences for the servant due to this lack of empathy? In Faulkner's "Barn Burning," what are the consequences of Abner's lack of empathy toward his family?  Toward his community? In Shakespeare's Othello, how does Iago demonstrate his lack of empathy and with what result? In Aidoo's Anowa, does Anowa's husband Kofi's attitude about slaves truly do no harm in his community?


These are some questions to jump start your brainstorming and thesis developing process – but you are not limited to addressing one of these questions; in fact, you are encouraged to develop your own. An essay that merely answers one of these questions will not be very original – since we are providing the question – and therefore not very successful.


You can select to write on one (and only one) of the following texts:

            Ry?nosuke Akutagawa, “In a Bamboo Grove” or “Rashomon”

            William Faulkner, "Barn Burning"

            William Shakespeare, Othello

            Ama Ata Aidoo, Anowa


Important Components of your Essay:

1)      Make sure you have a clear thesis, which makes an argument (not a summary) about the text

2)      Make sure to support your argument with evidence from the text

3)      Make sure to close-read that evidence, and tie your reading into your thesis argument

4)      Pay attention to advice provided in Dr. Valint’s “Writing Workshop” for detailed information about structuring your essay

5)      We strongly encourage you to make an appointment with the Writing Center – either in person or online – well in advance of the essay’s due date.


Minimum Expectations for Structuring Your Essay:


Paragraph 1:

  • A specific introduction that leads up to a clear thesis statement (offering an argument, with a point of view, instead of a summary), and ends in a strong transition to your next paragraph


Paragraph 2, 3, 4 (as many paragraphs as needed)

  • Each with a clear topic sentence forecasting your next paragraph, one argument that supports your thesis, textual evidence supporting your argument, and close-reading of that evidence


Paragraph 5 (last paragraph)


  • A closing paragraph that reasserts and restates (in new words) your argument and the conclusion you draw from that argument.


Paper Requirements:
-Paper must include the academic honesty statement at the top of the first page
-Paper must be a minimum of 850 words in length, not including the heading/title, plagiarism statement, running headers, footnotes or endnotes, and the works cited page
-Paper must have an interesting and original title
-Paper must offer a clear argument (not just a summary)
-Paper must provide close-reading analysis of at least two passages from the primary text
-Paper must include a works cited page
-Paper must be typed, double-spaced, written in 12-point Times or Times New Roman font, and formatted according to standard MLA style
-Paper file name must conform to the following: essay2lastnamefirstname.
For example, if your name is John Doe, your file name would be: essay2doejohn

-Any evidence of plagiarism will be result in the immediate failure of the essay and, potentially, of the class.

Essays are due by noon (CST) on Thursday, October 9, 2014. Late essays will be accepted for three days after the due date. A penalty of 5 points will be applied to all essays submitted after noon (CST) on October 9, 2014. No essays will be accepted after noon (CST) on Sunday, October 12, 2014.

The Drop Box for Essay #2 will be available under Week 8 in the course materials page and will be open starting October 2, 2014.

This essay is worth 20 points. 

A penalty of 5 points will be applied to all essays that do not meet the minimum length requirement (850 words).

Good luck!

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