The final comparative paper is due by 12 Noon on Monday December 20,2021. Students are encouraged to submit their papers earlier if they wish, fitting them in with their exam schedules.
The paper should be 5-7 pages long and should be double-spaced in 12-point Times New Roman or equivalent, with margins of one inch on all sides. Do not justify the margins. Please proofread all papers to catch grammatical errors, spelling errors, and typos. Do not use any materials not read or discussed in the lecture or section. Do not work with other students in writing your paper. Please feel free to use ideas and quotes from the lecture powerpoint slides, video lectures, and lecture notes. If you use these materials, such as ideas of Janet Walker, Tzvetan Todorov, Mary Ann Jesewsky, and others, you must give them proper attribution. In writing your paper, include a title that accurately reflects your argument; an introduction that clearly states your argument; a section that is the body of the paper, in which you develop your argument providing evidence from the texts to prove your points; and a conclusion that both summarizes your argument and takes your thinking a bit beyond what you laid out in the introduction. In each paragraph of your paper try to include one quote from at least one of the texts you are analyzing. Divide your paper into paragraphs and number your pages. Include a Works Cited section that follows the format in the online site OWLPurdue.
This is a comparative paper. Please follow the guidelines for writing a comparative paper available on the Module for Week Fourteen. Choose one of the questions below:
1. Three texts read this term presented societies where the humanity of the human being suffers from situations such as (but not limited to) lack of freedom: Gloria Anzaldua’s Borderlands/La Frontera (1987), Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2009), and Dostoevsky’s Memoirs from the House of the Dead (1861-62). Compare and contrast two of these texts from the viewpoint of the suffering human being, considering the following questions as you formulate your ideas: What societies or social structures are being criticized by the author? (Give the country and the time period dealt with in the text.) Which human beings (class or ethnic group) are suffering? What constraints or limitations do human beings suffer from in these texts, and why? And where? What modes of resistance do the human beings use to attempt to escape their constraints? Consider here, as one of the modes, the way human beings use language as an important mode of resistance. Please note: Since the texts present a number of individuals suffering from inequality and lack of freedom, you will need to select specific episodes and/or specific situations (in the case of the essays in the Anzaldua text) as you formulate your comparative argument.
2. Work is considered as crucial for the human being, fulfilling several goals, among which are: a means of earning a livelihood for the worker and others dependent on him or her; a means of self-expression and self-determination; a means of establishing an identity in one’s society and nation; a means of satisfying existential needs for creativity; a means of contributing to the common good; a means to attain freedom, pleasure, and so on. Then we also have the phenomenon of forced labor, as in the Russian katorga. Two of the texts read in our course deal with, among other topics, the problem of work and its meaning for the human being: Dostoevsky’s Memoirs from the House of the Dead and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wall-Paper.” Compare and contrast the depiction of the meaning of work for the human being in these two texts, considering the following questions as you formulate your ideas: Which societies are the authors considering and/or criticizing? (Situate the two texts in a country and in a particular historical period.) What kind(s) of work is the human being(s) doing, or not doing, and under what conditions? Which human beings (class, gender, disability group, ethnic group) is working or not working? How does their work enable, encourage, or prevent the various individual or group goals outlined above? Finally, what is the meaning (or meanings) of work for individuals in each text? [Please note: you will need to select specific episodes and/or specific situations involving work (in the case of the Dostoevsky text) as you formulate your comparative argument.]
3. In this course we have read several theories of Self and Other, Us and Them. Compare and contrast the process of Self-Other interaction in two of the following texts: Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Raymond Carver’s short story “Cathedral,” Sharon May’s short story “The Wizard of Khao-I-Dang,” and Dostoevsky’s Memoirs from the House of the Dead. The Self-Other interaction can be one where the Self (the norm or normate) idealizes or denigrates the Other, but I would like you also or rather to focus on situations in which Self and Other negotiate power and/or love relationships with each other. Consider the following questions as you formulate your ideas: Which societies is the author focusing on (give the country, the social location, and the historical period)? How does the negotiation of power and/or love play out in each text? Who is the Self and who is the Other, in each text, and how do they view each other? How do these positions shift as power is negotiated? Does the author of the text present a resolution of the Self-Other relations they focus on, and, if so, what resolution do you see emerging from the work? [Please note: you will need to select specific episodes and/or specific situations involving Self-Other relationships as you formulate your comparative argument.]
4. Comment on the connection between freedom and being human with reference to at least two texts we have studied this semester. For example, Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns traces the history of enslavement and the quest for freedom as being intrinsic to the African American identity. Gilman’s “The Yellow Wall-Paper” allows us to consider personal freedom through the experience of a gendered and disabled body. What does freedom mean for individuals and communities in terms of their specific contexts? You might wish to look at how notions of freedom are shaped by legal, technological, bodily, racial, and gendered or any other social and historical factors. Also, is there a universal understanding of freedom for all human beings or is freedom determined by their specific contexts?
5. Sharon May’s short story “The Wizard of Khao-I-Dang” portrays an oppressive power hierarchy between the Cambodian refugees and the Australian immigration officers. Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel Memoirs from the House of the Dead likewise demonstrates the absolute/dictatorial control of the prison authorities over the prisoners in the labor camp. Use relevant details from both texts to compare and contrast how power produces violence and cruelty in the two fictions, and/or how human beings in the works wish for freedom, flight, and escape. How do the first- person narrators’ language, tone, and/or attitude give their perspectives on the violence and cruelty of the power hierarchy?
6. Three texts read this term presented translation and/or the figure of the translator as mediating between incommensurable linguistic and cultural contexts: Gloria Anzaldua’s Borderlands/La Frontera, Svetlana Velmar-Jancovic’s “Sima Street,” and Sharon May’s “The Wizard of Khao-I- Dang.” Compare and contrast two of these texts through the lens of translation, considering the following questions as you formulate your ideas: Which linguistic and cultural contexts are the author/character(s) mediating between? What motivates the author/character(s) to partake in the mediation? What are the problems the author/character(s) are facing which necessitate the act of translation? What kind of mediation takes place, and to what effect and with what consequences? In those texts, does translation provide an effective solution to problems and situations, and/or does it give rise to other problems in the process? Since all of the texts present specific instances and episodes where translation is seen to be taking place, you must refer to these examples and offer your close analysis as you formulate your comparative argument.
7. This question asks you to reflect on the relationship between geographical belonging and personal identity. The texts we have studied this semester offer a range of perspectives on this topic. For example, Gloria Anzaldua’s Borderlands/La Frontera explores the intersections of identity with national borders and Sharon May’s story “The Wizard of Khao-I-Dang” provides a glimpse into the complexities of a transnational life from refugee camps, immigrant experiences, and a longing for a homeland. Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian shows us that notions of ethnic authenticity can be negotiated through aesthetic expression and Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns discusses how migration has paradoxically enabled African Americans to plant roots, transcend their geographical limits, and establish a unique identity within the nation. Build your comparison/contrast by focusing on at least two texts from those mentioned in this question.
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