Oing out into the world and returning home, how history repeats itself
The Past is History?
From The Tempest to Lose Your Mother, weve focused not just on the return to a place, but on the return to the past. Weve also explored various attitudes toward the pasthow we use, know, remember, forget, revise, change, romanticize, work through, or deny it. In this paper, you will select two texts in order to answer the following question: What is the value of the past, or of our knowledge about the past?
THE BASIC REQUIREMENTS
In developing your thesis and argument, you will likely need to define or discuss how you understand the value of the past. In thinking about this question, you might also consider related questions, such as: What do we gain (or lose) from knowledge of/about the past? How are we able to use information about the past or history in the present? What does it mean to deny the past, versus remembering it or forgetting it?
This is a comparative essay; you are bringing to texts into a relation with one another. To do this successfully, you must establish a frame of reference, the grounds for comparison, and a thesis that presents an argument about the relation between the two texts. Additionally, you will need to think about how to structure the paper so that the two texts are related to each other throughout. Below, I provide further information about writing a comparative essay.
As with the first essay, you will need to integrate quotations, analyze them paying attention to specific details of language, and present interpretations in supporting and developing your argument. Additionally, you are expected to move away from the five-paragraph model of essay writing when responding to this prompt.
POSSIBLE TEXTS FOR USE IN THE PAPER
Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad
Shakespeare, The Tempest
Herman Melville, Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street Ingeborg Bachmann, The Book of Franza
Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano W.E.B. Dubois, Of the Dawn of Freedom from The Souls of Black Folk Saidya Hartman, prologue from Lose Your Mother
Edward Said, Reflections on Exile
Aime Cesaire, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land
WRITING A COMPARATIVE ESSAY
1. Frame of Reference. This is the context in which you place the two things you will look at. The frame of reference may consist of an idea, theme, question, problem, theory, biographical information, or historical information. Our Frame of Reference is the question: What is gained (or lost) from knowledge of/about the past? Keep in mind that you will need to discuss your understanding of this question and its important terms/concepts (What is the past? Is it history? What other things can we gain/lose form the past? How do we use the past?).
2. Grounds for Comparison. Lets say youre writing a paper on global food distribution and youve chosen to compare apples and oranges. Why these particular fruits? Why not pears and bananas? The rationale behind your choice, the grounds for comparison, lets your reader know why your choice is deliberate and meaningful, not random. The grounds for comparison identify common factors, or similarities between A and B.
3. Thesis. Conveys the relationship between A and B, i.e. A lets me see this about B.
4. Organizational Scheme. There are two main structural models for the comparative
essay. The first is text-by-text, in which you discuss all of A and then all of B. If you want to illustrate how A allows us to see something about B, for example, the textby-text scheme is a logical choice. Second, point-by-point, in which you alternate points about A with comparable points about B.
5. Linking A and B. Throughout your essay, use phrases and sentences that link A and B together, showing how A and B are related. Use transitional expressions of comparison and contrast (similarly, moreover, likewise, on the contrary, conversely, on the other hand) and contrastive vocabulary (although, while).