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Homework answers / question archive / Humanities, Summer 2017, Paper Instructions Your paper assignment is pretty simple

Humanities, Summer 2017, Paper Instructions Your paper assignment is pretty simple

Writing

Humanities, Summer 2017, Paper Instructions

Your paper assignment is pretty simple.  Pick some detail or incident or expression from one of the works we’ve studied, and write two paragraphs on it.  In the first paragraph, you will explain how the item you’ve chosen is strange or unfamiliar to a person who only knows the modern world of 2017 (for U.S. students, that modern world can be the U.S. version; for Saudi or Kuwaiti students, it can be the modern Arab version).  In the second paragraph, you will flip it around and explain how we can understand the item more sympathetically.  There is a sample in the next section.  

Your paragraphs should be roughly 225 to 285 words (the sample’s are 256 and 279).

The thing you choose should be significant.  Don’t, for instance, choose to write about some name from a foreign culture and say, “no one in the United States (or the Arab world) has a name like that.”  At the same time, it should genuinely confront modern readers in 2017 with a cultural difference that can be hard for them.  Don’t pick, say, a cruel act in your text, say “how strange,” and then argue that, after all, people can be cruel in our culture as well.  Everyone knows that.  You must genuinely be able to articulate the strangeness of the thing you choose.  And of course you must be able to do the flip in the second paragraph, and show it in a more understanding light.

Your paper should be grammatical.  There is no excuse for multiple errors in every sentence, especially when you only have to write two paragraphs.  Spelling should be correct.  Look up the words you use, and make sure you are using them correctly.  Your paper should be clear, well organized, and logically ordered.  Your first paragraph should genuinely articulate the ways in which your chosen item is different from what can be found in the modern world of 2017.  The second paragraph should genuinely articulate the logic of the item “from the other side.”  See the sample for a clearer picture of this.  Following the sample, the poem which the sample is based on appears in the next section.  In the section after that, the sample appears again, only with a considerable amount of commentary about the standards you should adhere to (you might need to go to “View” from the top menu and select “Read Mode” in order to see this section).  Study these.  A part of your grade will be based on how well you have followed instructions. The final sections are student papers from previous semesters. The student papers (except for the last one) are examples of poorly done papers. I want you to see that this assignment is not a knock off, and that it is entirely possible to drop the ball on it.

You will email me your paper as an attachment (no hard copies) on the day it is due (see the syllabus) by midnight.  If you work in Microsoft Word, send it like that.  If you use any other word processing program, you must save your finished work as a richtext file (File, Save As, choose richtext from the dropdown menu), and send me that version.  Getting that right is part of following instructions.  I cannot read a Google Docs file, so if you write your paper in Google Docs, you’ll need to copy it to another program as a richtext file and send me that. The file you send me should be titled as your last-name.first-name (so mine would be “Henzy.Karl”).  Getting that right is part of following instructions.

One more, very important thing: do not choose as your topic something that I have discussed in this way in class.  I do not wish to see my own analysis typed up and offered to me as your paper.   I want you to demonstrate to me that you  can do this kind of thinking. There are plenty of texts, or parts of texts, that we have not discussed in detail. Finally, you can see that in my sample, I work with one specific detail in one poem. Likewise, if you choose to work with a longer text (Gilgamesh, The Iliad, Ozidi) you should not try and take on the entire plot, but just one detail within it (the scorpion gatekeepers in Gilgamesh, let’s say, or the exchange with the tavern keep Shiduri, or in The Iliad the scene in which Athena convinces Achilles not to kill Agamemnon, and so on).

 

Note on Plagiarism: This assignment is so tailored to our class that it is virtually impossible to copy and paste from another source. Nevertheless, students have tried to do so (and been spotted right away). Let me spell this out: every professor has a pet peeve; cheating is mine, so I’m quite serious about this. If you use someone else’s writing in your paper and offer it as your own, you will be found out, and the result will be an F, not simply for the assignment, but for the course. Knowing that some faculty at Morgan are more lenient, and only fail the assignment, some students try to challenge me on that. My response is simple—I file a charge of academic dishonesty with Morgan’s Office of Student Affairs. The case would be ruled on there, and if they find that the student is guilty of academic dishonesty (which they would), the student would be either suspended or expelled. The charge would be on the student’s permanent record. Most students prefer quietly and simply to take the F in the class.

OK, now that that’s out of the way, your samples are below …

Chinese Paper Cutting as Trauma Therapy

In Chinese poet Du Fu’s “P’eng-ya Song,” he tells the story of his family fleeing north on foot from the chaos of a political rebellion, exposed to rain and cold, and nearly starving until they are sheltered by family friend Sun Tsai.  Sun Tsai welcomes them, feeds them, and, before putting them to bed, “soothe[s] [their] feet with warm water / and cut[s] paper charms to summon [their] souls” (East Asia 12).  To readers unfamiliar with 8th century Chinese culture, Sun Tsai’s paper cutting might seem superstitious, childish, and disproportionate to the trauma Du Fu and his family had suffered.  It can seem superstitious specifically to Christians, who don’t believe that people’s souls leave their bodies until death, even under traumatic conditions.  Nor do Christians (or scientifically-minded secularists, for that matter) think that paper cut-outs have any magic power, and certainly no capacity to summon souls or spirits.  If there were something with that kind of sway (such as prayer), it wouldn’t be anything as apparently childish as little designs cut in paper with scissors.  Many children in the United States cut paper shapes in kindergarten and early elementary school, but we hardly expect the results to impact the spiritual realm, nor would we expect to comfort the victims of Hurricane Katrina or 9-11 with children’s cutout snowflakes.  The paper cuttings are flimsy and temporary products of the moment; they are entirely out of proportion to the momentous trauma of natural disasters or enemy attacks.  Such traumas call for sober, somber support, not childish art projects.

Let us try, however, to look at Sun Tsai’s aid more sympathetically.  Though we may not believe that catastrophe separates people’s souls from their bodies, we do grasp that massive shock can radically disorient people, make them “not themselves.”  We can easily translate Sun Tsai’s effort to summon Du Fu’s family’s souls as an attempt to help them recover their sense of themselves, their focus and their center.  Sometimes that recovery needs to start with the deepest layers of the shock victim, which date all the way back to childhood in some cases.  So if paper cutting is childlike, that might help because it appeals to a part of the victims that predates the shock that they have recently suffered.  If Du Fu’s family could be led to follow those folds and cuts closely, it would draw their attention away from their misfortune, while the unfolding of the beautiful finished shape might suggest, at least on an unconscious level, the “unfolding” into health and recovery of the family from the “cuts and folds” of their disaster.  Finally, the very mismatch of childish art project to family catastrophe could be what Du Fu’s family might need at that time.  It’s not always the best policy to sit with a friend and talk endlessly about her assault or her father’s death by cancer.  Sometimes it’s better to take her to the mall and show her the attractive new blouse, or to the ballgame and let her get worked up about the game winning play.  Thus seen sympathetically, what looks superstitious, childish, and disproportionate in Sun Tsai’s paper cutting can be seen as psychologically astute, therapeutically effective, and tactfully sensitive.Du Fu, “P’eng-ya Song”

 

 

I remember long ago slipping away

in precarious depths of night.  The moon

bright on Po-shui Mountain, I eluded

rebel armies and fled with my family

 

far north, by foot on P’eng-ya Road.

By then, most people we met had lost all

shame.  Scattered bird cries haunted 

valleys.  No one returned the way we came.

 

My silly, starved girl bit me and screamed.

Afraid tigers and wolves might hear, 

I cradled her close, holding her mouth,

but she squirmed loose, crying louder still.

 

Looking after us gallantly, my little boy

searched out sour-plum feasts.  Of ten days,

half were all thunder and rain—mud

and more mud to drag ourselves through.

 

We didn’t plan for rain.  Clothes ever

colder, the road slippery, an insufferable

day’s travel often took us but a few short 

miles by nightfall.  Wild fruit replaced

 

what little food we had carried with us.

Low branches became our home.  We left dew-

splashed rocks each morning, and passed 

nights at the smoke-scored edge of heaven.

 

We had stopped at T’ung-chia Marsh,

planning to cross Lu-tzu Pass, when you

took us in, Sun Tsai, old friend, your

kindness towering like billowing clouds.

 

Dusk already become night, you hung lanterns

out and swung door after door wide open.

You soothed our feet with warm water

and cut paper charms to summon our souls,

 

then called your wife and children in, their

eyes filling with tears for us.  My chicks

soon drifted away in sleep, but you brought

them back, offering choice dishes of food.

 

You and I, you promised, will be forever

bound together like two dear brothers.

And before long, you emptied our rooms,

leaving us to joy and peace and rest.

 

In these times overrun with such calamity,

how many hearts are so open and generous?

A year of months since we parted, and still

those Mongols spin their grand catastrophes.

 

How long before I’ve grown feathers and wings

and settled beside you at the end of flight?

 

 

 

Chinese Paper Cutting as Trauma Therapy

In Chinese poet Du Fu’s “P’eng-ya Song,” he tells the story of his family fleeing north on foot from the chaos of a political rebellion, exposed to rain and cold, and nearly starving until they are sheltered by family friend Sun Tsai.  Sun Tsai welcomes them, feeds them, and, before putting them to bed, “soothe[s] [their] feet with warm water / and cut[s] paper charms to summon [their] souls” (East Asia 12).  To readers unfamiliar with 8th century Chinese culture, Sun Tsai’s paper cutting might seem superstitious, childish, and disproportionate to the trauma Du Fu and his family had suffered.  It can seem superstitious specifically to Christians, who don’t believe that people’s souls leave their bodies until death, even under traumatic conditions.  Nor do Christians (or scientifically-minded secularists, for that matter) think that paper cut-outs have any magic power, and certainly no capacity to summon souls or spirits.  If there were something with that kind of sway (such as prayer), it wouldn’t be anything as apparently childish as little designs cut in paper with scissors.  Many children in the United States cut paper shapes in kindergarten and early elementary school, but we hardly expect the results to impact the spiritual realm, nor would we expect to comfort the victims of Hurricane Katrina or 9-11 with children’s cutout snowflakes.  The paper cuttings are flimsy and temporary products of the moment; they are entirely out of proportion to the momentous trauma of natural disasters or enemy attacks.  Such traumas call for sober, somber support, not childish art projects.

Let us try, however, to look at Sun Tsai’s aid more sympathetically.  Though we may not believe that catastrophe separates people’s souls from their bodies, we do grasp that massive shock can radically disorient people, make them “not themselves.”  We can easily translate Sun Tsai’s effort to summon Du Fu’s family’s souls as an attempt to help them recover their sense of themselves, their focus and their center.  Sometimes that recovery needs to start with the deepest layers of the shock victim, which date all the way back to childhood in some cases.  So if paper cutting is childlike, that might help because it appeals to a part of the victims that predates the shock that they have recently suffered.  If Du Fu’s family could be led to follow those folds and cuts closely, it would draw their attention away from their misfortune, while the unfolding of the beautiful finished shape might suggest, at least on an unconscious level, the “unfolding” into health and recovery of the family from the “cuts and folds” of their disaster.  Finally, the very mismatch of childish art project to family catastrophe could be what Du Fu’s family might need at that time.  It’s not always the best policy to sit with a friend and talk endlessly about her assault or her father’s death by cancer.  Sometimes it’s better to take her to the mall and show her the attractive new blouse (or take him to the ballgame and let him get worked up about the game winning play).  Thus seen sympathetically, what looks superstitious, childish, and disproportionate in Sun Tsai’s paper cutting can be seen as psychologically astute, therapeutically effective, and tactfully sensitive.

 

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The Mahabharata: Polygamy on the Rise

Gilgamesh’s Abuse of Power

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