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In the response papers, you are expected to write a short essay providing a commentary to some of the material that we have read in class up to that moment. The most successful response papers are short and focused: instead of trying to summarize the entire plot of an epic text like The Epic of Gilgamesh, a good response paper might focus on only one or two passages from the epic that serve as a good introduction to a theme that you would like to explore further, either because you found it interesting, or compelling, or confusing. For instance, you might decide to write about the shifting conceptions of immortality and mortality in the Epic by juxtaposing the passages where, before killing Humbaba, Gilgamesh sings the praises to immortality achieved through glorious deeds, with Enkidu’s more grim understanding of the afterlife. Another successful paper might try to make some sense of the implications of Derrida and Negrón’s paradoxical thinking of islands as places of isolation and yet of a desire to not be alone, or, more crucially still, islands as figures for the very impossibility of being alone-alone, since one is only alone, as Derrida writes, “with you.” Another possibility would be to try to take some of the provocative formulations of Derrida or of Negrón and see to what extent they resonate with some of the events and the motifs and figure that appear in The Epic of Gilgamesh. And, of course, do not forget that ultimately you are free to write on whatever you find interesting about these texts—as long as you stick to the material that we have read in class.

have to write a new one. You may choose any topic by looking at the “response papers-guidelines” file. Please choose one topic or change my Gilgamesh essay (which will be very difficult… my professor didn’t like it)! Follow the guidelines please. Thank you!

Emory College of Arts And Sciences

Department of Comparative Literature

CPLT 203: Literatures Beyond the Canon: Other Islands: The World at its Limits

Instructor: Ronald Mendoza-de Jesús

Response Papers

  1. Assignment description:

 

In the response papers, you are expected to write a short essay providing a commentary to some of the material that we have read in class up to that moment. The most successful response papers are short and focused: instead of trying to summarize the entire plot of an epic text like The Epic of Gilgamesh, a good response paper might focus on only one or two passages from the epic that serve as a good introduction to a theme that you would like to explore further, either because you found it interesting, or compelling, or confusing. For instance, you might decide to write about the shifting conceptions of immortality and mortality in the Epic by juxtaposing the passages where, before killing Humbaba, Gilgamesh sings the praises to immortality achieved through glorious deeds, with Enkidu’s more grim understanding of the afterlife. Another successful paper might try to make some sense of the implications of Derrida and Negrón’s paradoxical thinking of islands as places of isolation and yet of a desire to not be alone, or, more crucially still, islands as figures for the very impossibility of being alone-alone, since one is only alone, as Derrida writes, “with you.” Another possibility would be to try to take some of the provocative formulations of Derrida or of Negrón and see to what extent they resonate with some of the events and the motifs and figure that appear in The Epic of Gilgamesh. And, of course, do not forget that ultimately you are free to write on whatever you find interesting about these texts—as long as you stick to the material that we have read in class.

 

  1. Specifications:

 

Your response paper must be formatted according to the following specifications:

 

  1. Two-page long essay
  2. Double spaced
  3. Following MLA citational style (it must include a header, paper title [please avoid using titles like: “Response paper on the Epic of Gilgamesh,” be a bit more creative!], citations must be embedded into the main body of the text, and a “Works cited” section at the end of the paper)

 

Note: More information about the MLA citational style can be found here:

 

https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/

  1. Pedagogical goals:

 

This assignment fulfills several pedagogical goals. The main purpose of this assignment is to helps me as an instructor begin to identify your strengths as

 

  1. writers and communicators,
  2. readers of literary texts and philosophical texts,
  3. thinkers and analysts of cultural and aesthetic works.

This explains why the assignment comes relatively early in the semester. By having you write your first papers early on in the semester, we can begin to work through any issues that you might have either with English grammar or style, with following scholarly conventions (like following the MLA style in your citations), and, finally, helping you become a better thinker and a more effective communicator, both in the written page and in more oral modes of expression.

 

  1. Evaluation criteria:

 

For the first of the response assignments, the most important evaluation criteria will be howeffective you are as a writer. If your writing is very solid, then I will begin to push you in the direction of producing work that is both more disciplinary specific (by that, I mean work that reproduces the best conventions and knowledge-production practices in the field of literary studies) and more intellectually stimulating and scholarly rigorous.

 

Here’s a rule of thumb, abbreviated rubric of my grading criteria:

 

A = The paper can be counted among the best work done in class. Extremely effective at conveying its main goals and objectives, at pursuing them throughout the body of the essay, while displaying an excellent command of grammatical, stylistic, rhetorical, and scholarly composition conventions.

 

A- = The paper stands out among the other assignments. It effectively conveys its main goals and objectives and pursues them throughout the body of the essay, while displaying a remarkable command of grammatical, stylistic, rhetorical, and scholarly composition conventions. With a bit of work at the level style and grammar or with a bit more work on its arguments and analyses, or with a bit more care for citational conventions, this paper would have been an A.

 

B+ = The paper is only slightly above average. It conveys its main goals and objectives and pursues them throughout the body of the essay. It fulfills the requirements of the assignment without displaying an excellent or remarkable command of grammatical, stylistic, rhetorical, and scholarly composition conventions. Usually, a B+ indicates that the assignment displays shortcomings at both the level of writing or communication and of thinking or argumentation.

B = The paper is average. It fulfills the requirements of the assignment, but it betrays a lack of fluidity in the student’s command of stylistic, rhetorical, and scholarly composition conventions. Usually, a B indicates that the student needs to do substantial work to improve her writing, the thinking, and her use of scholarly citational styles. The instructor recommends going to the Emory’s Writing Center if the student obtains a B or below, as a way of doing extra-work on your composition skills.

 

B- = The paper is below average.

 

C = The paper does not satisfy the standards of our class.

 

 

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