City College Comparison Analysis of Sunjata and The European Tribes Discussion


Write a 1200-word essay in which you compare two or three readings from the semester from a clearly defined perspective. Your essay should focus on a few key passage(s) — scenes, moments, episodes — from the readings you are discussing. You can of course refer to other bits of the text, but your essay should really centered on those parts — which also means that you should spend some time describing the scene or episode, explaining what is happening, what is striking about it, and explaining what it reveals about the question or topic you are interested in.

So: you need a big idea or topic, and also specific details.

You should be able to clearly state what idea, what topic it is that you are looking at in each text. This does not mean you have to start with stating your topic in very general terms. Rather, you might find it much more productive to start with one of the readings, identify your topic there — and then discuss how it appears in one (or two) other reading(s) from the semester.

As we discussed in class, you should not write a general comparison of two books or two characters. Instead, your comparison should have a clearly defined focus or angle.

But this does not mean that you should produce a simplistic argument. Do not just argue something that is obvious at first glance. I DO encourage you to consider two angles, two topics, IF you can show how those are connected, how one is related to the other. A good paper is going to go beyond stating that X and Y are “strong female characters” — that is not a very striking idea anyway. Instead, once you have quickly explained how those two are both strong female characters (for example by contrasting their actions to how others, especially other women behave and act in those texts), think about the difference between their actions, their possibilities for action, and what those differences say about their place in society, for example.

Do NOT pad you essay with basic information, do not spend time on introducing the reading in general terms (Antigone was written by Sophocles and this is what it is about). We all know who Odysseus is, and what his adventures were. You are writing for people who have taken this class and know the readings.

DO make sure you are working with specific details, passages, scenes, events from the readings. You lose points if everything you say could be said based on a plot summary (i.e., if you don’t discuss some specific parts of the text closely).

Do NOT pad your essay by copying big chunks of text: instead, summarize, paraphrase, describe — only quote what is really telling or necessary. The essay should be dominantly in your own words. If you quote multiple lines or sentences, make sure you then spend some time analyzing what you quoted. Quotations are not substitutes for you clearly stating your point.

Even if you are paraphrasing or summarizing, you should still cite the texts using the clearest and most precise way allowed by our texts (this would be line number in the case of Antigone; book number and line number in the case of the Odyssey; Act, scene, and line number in the case of Othello; page number in the case of Sunjata and Oroonoko, etc). If you are telling us what happens when Odysseus visits the Phaeacians, even if you are not quoting a single word from the book, you should still include a citation (Book 13, lines 12-34) after your summary.

If you use a different translation than the one assigned and distributed in this class, I will assume you plagiarized your work and you get 0 points.

Make sure the essay is carefully proofread, and organized into paragraphs. Check for grammar, run-on sentences. Please make sure you are spelling the names correctly (and do NOT let autocorrect fix things for you: especially with names, that results in a disaster).


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