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English and Literature

This essay should be a 650-900 word essay focusing on the assigned readings from the course.

Essay Cover Letter: The essay cover letter is designed to give you practice evaluating your own writing, and also to give you a chance to request specific feedback from the instructor. In the Cover Letter, please respond to the following questions: 1. What assignment prompt did you decide to respond to and why? 2. If the prompt allowed you to choose what works to write on, which work or works did you choose and why? 3. What do you feel are the strengths of your essay? 4. What parts of the essay do you feel are weaknesses or areas that could use more work? 5. Are there any particular parts of the essay on which you would like more feedback? NOTE: Remember that your responses should be in the form of a letter. See the sample essay linked in the essay assignments for an example. Try to be as clear and specific as possible so that I have a strong context through which to consider your essay.

Choose 1 of the following topics from either the Analytical or Creative categories. For the analytical choices, be sure to write a thesis-driven essay in response to the topic. Creative choices should be written as narratives.

Analytical Choices
1.Who Painted the Lion? Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, as she describes her own life and marriages in her prologue, points out the problem that stories about women seem to have been mostly written by men: “Who painted first the lion, tell me who?” (Chaucer 816). Many of these, she opines, are negative, and the implication is that it would be different if women were writing the stories themselves. Choose 1 female character from the tales (not the prologues) in The Canterbury Tales  or from any of our other earlier readings, and make a claim about whether this female figure is positive, negative, or neutral. Use only passages from the story itself (and, if you’re writing on a part of The Canterbury Tales, the tale-teller’s prologue) to support your position.

2.The Return of Greek Mythology: The setting of “The Knight’s Tale” is ancient Greece, and it may be tempting to compare this story to The Iliad. Think back to our Week 2 reading and compare the heroic ideals depicted in The Iliad with the heroic ideals depicted in “The Knight’s Tale.” Can we read “The Knight’s Tale” as being a direct reflection of the heroic ideals we find in The Iliad? Why or why not?

3.Ruling Well in the Real World: Choose one leader from US history and evaluate him or her in terms of EITHER Machiavelli’s model of an ideal prince OR Confucius’ model of a good leader. Support your thesis with quotations of and references to specific passages from the chosen author’s work and with specific details from these politicians’ careers. Some minor historical research is allowed for this topic.

4.Good Rulers in Fictional Works: Choose one leader or character from our earlier assigned readings (from Weeks 2-5) and evaluate him or her in terms of EITHER Machiavelli’s model of an ideal prince OR Confucius’ model of a good leader. Support your thesis with quotations of and references to specific passages from the two chosen works.

5.Judging Other Tales: Choose one important character any one of the works assigned in Weeks 2-5 (choose a single tale if using a work from Weeks 4 or 5), and evaluate him or her using the moral structures set up by Dante in our reading from The Inferno. Leaving aside the character’s religion (which would automatically relegate some characters at least to Limbo), would this character be hell-worthy in Dante’s view? Why or why not?

6.Make your own topic: create your own critical question to answer in your essay. If you choose this topic you must contact the instructor for approval by Thursday of Week 8. Essay submissions with unapproved topics will be returned.

 

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