For this assignment, you will be producing an interpretive essay in which you reflect on the roles of language and literature in the processes of colonization and/or decolonization. Your essay should be narrowly focused on one of the following texts:
William Shakespeare, The Tempest (1611) Aimé Césaire, A Tempest (1969)
Kamau Brathwaite, “Letter SycoraX” (1992) John Agard, “Listen Mr. Oxford Don” (1985) Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (1719) Derek Walcott, “Crusoe’s Island” (1965) Hanay Geiogamah, Foghorn (1973)
Commenting on your chosen text, develop an original thesis that explores one or more of the following issues: the role of education in colonization; the relationship between silence and complicity; the rebellious use of dialect, cursing, musicality, or “nation language”; the use of literary adaptations in the decolonial project; or the use of naming practices as either a display of power or as an act of subversion.
At an absolute minimum, your essay should contain at least five direct quotations. Quotations from
the text are your evidence. Without evidence, you cannot prove your argument. Make certain that
quotations are relevant to your claims and are adequately contextualized.
- § Do not write a clichéd or generic opener in which you overgeneralize about “society” or “humankind.” Your introduction should contextualize—not decontextualize—your subject. This means your introduction should not make broad, unsubstantiated claims about “universal” truths (e.g., “society has always been interested in issues of power”). Nor should you make subjective judgments about the value of a particular text (e.g., “Shakespeare’s The Tempest is a literary masterpiece.”) As a general rule, you should shy away from the following words or phrases in your introduction: mankind, humankind, society, human history, eons, dawn of time, interesting, important, notable, always, good, famous, timeless, classic, masterpiece.
- § Your thesis statement must be arguable. This means it needs to be tightly focused. If your thesis attempts to account for every aspect of a given text, it will be far too broad. Think deeply about what you can and cannot convincingly prove in a 1,000-word essay. Additionally, an “arguable” thesis is one that might be argued against. It cannot be a verifiable fact or a universally held opinion. If all readers would agree with your central claim, then your claim isn’t worth making. Put simply, your argument should pass the “well, duh” test. If a hypothetical reader would look at your thesis and say, “well, duh, that’s entirely obvious,” then you should rethink your thesis. Your thesis shouldn’t look like the following:
- Kamau Brathwaite’s “Letter SycoraX” uses non-standard English. (Well, duh.)
- In his adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, revises the original ending. (Well, duh.)
- Formatting: All papers should be typed, double-spaced, proofread, and spellchecked. You should use one-inch margins and a 12-point serif font (Times or Times New Roman). Be sure to include MLA-style citations.
Length: 1000 words.
Percentage of Final Grade: 20 percent.
Due: Thursday, October 3rd by 5:00 PM.
please site all sources.
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