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Using the guidelines in the “Assignment” section below, you will develop your own topic for your critical essay. This means you are to consider the subject of killing in the context of a social, historical, philosophical, psychological, legal, political, ethical, and/or moral consideration (as we have discussed in our classes, and as are raised by the supplementary readings), and propose a topic that examines the central killing in one of our primary texts in light of one of these broader considerations.
2. SOURCES:
● At least one (1) primary text (story) from either the Peters text or the Topic Supplemental Course Pack;
● AND at least one (1) supplementary text from either section, or an outside secondary text (which must be approved by both instructors). If the text you choose is not an “obvious” supplement to the primary text, you must seek approval to use it.
● NOTE – you are NOT to exceed three texts without approval. This means you may use two primary texts and one supplementary text, or one primary text and two supplementary texts, but not more than 3 in total.
● AND, in addition to the above, at least one (1) secondary source, which must be a scholarly article from a reputable, peer-reviewed journal (no websites, etc.).
3. THE ASSIGNMENT:
Using the sources listed above, research and write an persuasive essay that examines a specific killing central to your primary text, and the ways in which the text raises issues illustrated by your supplementary text, or, the ways in which your supplementary text informs, challenges, or reinforces those issues raised by the primary text.
How does the central killing you are examining act as a vehicle for delivering a greater message about the human predilection for killing? Your primary question is the theme of our course, which is killing, but you will examine killing in the ways the texts raise greater issues that these contextual categories represent. For instance, if you are writing about killings committed by women in a male dominated society, you will want to examine some of the pressures that Miss Emily Grierson, or Minnie Foster, or Maria Concepcion were contending with (which may include social, political, economic, psychological and/or emotional pressures), such that they found themselves backed into a corner from which killing seemed the only escape. But a larger question remains: what role did their respective societies play in creating, tolerating, encouraging the environments in which these dynamics flourished? Or, in the case of Hemingway’s “Macomber,” a question you might explore is: How is the death of Francis Macomber part of a larger comment that Hemingway is making about his philosophical (nihilistic) view of the human condition?
IMPORTANT NOTE: We encourage you to read and research the primary texts before they are assigned as class readings. Only three students may write on the same primary text, so choose your text early. For example, you may want to write about Jackson’s “The Lottery,” but find that three students have already signed up for that story. Or, you may want to write about O’Brien’s “How to Tell a True War Story,” which is not officially assigned for discussion until December, long after the research paper process has begun. A Sign-Up Wiki is on the RESEARCH PAPER page of the Topic Section Blackboard, where you can sign up for your preferred text.
4. YOUR AUDIENCE:
Assume that your audience has read, and is fully familiar with, your primary text, your supplementary text, and your secondary source. Avoid summary, and provide, instead, critical analysis. Do not tell us what happens, we know what happens; tell us what you think it means. Therefore, avoid summary introductory clauses such as ‘Maria Concepcion stops on her way to the market and sees Juan Villegas seducing Maria Rosa.’ Instead, write: ‘When Maria Concepcion sees Juan seducing Maria Rosa, she determines that they both must die.’ This sentence assumes that the reader knows what preceded that moment.
4. REQUIRED LENGTH AND FORMAT:
Your essays shall be 5-7 pages in length, PLUS a Works Cited page, which does not count as part of the 5-7 required pages. The essay must conform to MLA Formatting and Style. An MLA Stylesheet Template has been uploaded to the “RESEARCH PAPER” page of the Blackboard. You may download this template and use “overtype” to write your essays directly onto this template, and it will automatically be in MLA format. You MUST use a header with name and page number; missing header will result in half a grade (5 points) deduction.
The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University is also an excellent Web resource, and contains proper instructions/examples of MLA Formatting (if you Google “MLA Format” your first result will be this site): http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/

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