Recognition in Literature
Essay Prompts: Choose one of the following three options
Moments of recognition are, in some sense, moments of truth – but most of the texts we have studied also thematize lying, deception and trickery. Compare the depiction of deception in two or more of these texts, considering not only how it works similarly/differently in those texts, but why that might be.
Many of the moments of recognition in the texts we have studied are prompted by tokens or signs. What are tokens? And what can these tokens – Oedipus’s heels, Odysseus’s scar, etc. – tell us about the characters to which they pertain, and the values or assumptions of the world of the text? Answer with reference to two or more texts from the course.
The texts we have studied so far feature predominantly male protagonists and characters. Female characters often appear as subsidiary characters, especially as mothers, daughters, wives or lovers to more central male figures. Yet, these “minor” female characters often play crucial roles in advancing the recognition narrative either by subverting the expectations of their patriarchal societies – Tamar, Penelope, etc. – or by adhering to these social norms. What do the roles of female characters tell us about the limits of their societies and why do some choose to rebel while others choose to adhere to social norms? Are they punished or rewarded for their actions? Answer with reference to two or more texts.
Your essay must:
be 5 pages long, double-spaced, in size 12 font with 1.25-inch margins. Footnotes are included in the page count; bibliography is not.
Bibliography and footnotes are a required part of the paper submission.
Explore and develop an idea in a coherent, interesting way;
Have a thoughtful beginning, middle, and end;
Be grammatically correct; and
Have a tone appropriate for the intended audience.
Have a CLEAR thesis statement that outlines what your argument is
Have evidence from the text/film in the form of specific examples, quotations, and page numbers
Have your analysis and interpretation of the textual evidence (i.e. not the professor’s)
Have a separate bibliography/works cited page. You can use either the MLA reference guide or the Chicago reference guide. Be sure to use the correct format for your citations throughout the essay. These guides will explain how to cite books, films, quotes, footnotes, endnotes, etc. If in doubt, ask.
if you choose to write about one of the mandatory films, only one of your examples can be a film.
Aristotle’s The Poetics (chapters 6, 10, 11, and 16)
Sophocles’ Oedipus the King
Homer’s Odyssey Book 8, Book16 to 23
Book of Genesis 1 to 50
The Qur’an: Suras 81 (The Overturning/The Rollingover) and 12 (Joseph)
Recognition and Disclosure in the Life of Muhammad
The Christian Gospels: readings from Mark, Luke and John
Canto XV and T.S. Eliot’s Little Gidding (CP)
Optional Movie References:
Carol Reed’s The Third Man (1949)
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