ASSIGNMENT: Using at least three of the artistic works we read and discussed in class this semester, write an analytical essay comparing and contrasting how Japanese authors have treated a common, central theme (or themes) in their novels and/or short stories. Clearly identify the shared theme(s) you will be examining in the title of your essay. Assume full reader knowledge of the novels/short stories you write about—it is not, in other words, necessary for you to provide synopses, essential context or background information. Support your main points with references to and direct quotations from the texts, and it is fine to let such textual references “speak for themselves.” In your analysis, incorporate discussion of the relevance of the authors’ literary treatments of the theme/themes you chose to examine to our contemporary lives and times. Double-space your essay, use Times New Roman 12-point font, and insert page numbers. Do not refer to or incorporate any unassigned secondary sources without prior consultation with, and the expressed permission of the instructor. When quoting or referring to assigned primary and secondary sources use parenthetical citations including the author’s last name and page number of the work to which you are referring, i.e., (Stahl 14), (Tyson 58), (Murakami 26). There is no need to include a bibliography because I am already familiar with all of the assigned primary and second sources. While it is fine to read the novels/short stories you choose to analyze in Japanese, Chinese, etc. you must quote from the assigned English translations. While there is no set length limit, take-home final essays usually average about 8-10 double-spaced pages in length.
RECOMMENDED APPROACH: 1) Identify the common, central theme or themes you are most interested in examining and choose at least three artistic works that contain significant treatment of said theme or themes. It is fine to revisit a theme you wrote about in your first and/or second essays, but if you do, you must state this fact and build upon and develop your earlier ideas and insights (it is absolutely unacceptable to simply cut and paste from your previous essay/essays and Turnitin will flag this immediately if you do). 2) Review the three literary works you have selected to write about with your chosen thematic concern(s) in mind and identify the key textual scenes/quotations/images you will incorporate and interpret in your essay. 3) Decide on the basic structure of your essay; will you examine the works separately or compare and contrast them simultaneously? Work up a general framework/outline. 4) Decide whether you will discuss the contemporary relevance of the writers’ treatment of the theme(s) at the beginning, in the body or at the end of your essay. 5) Once all of these preparations have been completed, set aside a three-hour block of time and compose your essay as if you were taking an in-class exam. Allow your thoughts to flow as freely and naturally as possible (as if you were writing an in-depth, extended response paper). It is fine to use self-references and your essay need not be reworked or revised (but please do spellcheck). If it occurs to you while you are writing that it would have been better to have made a particular point earlier, simply state this fact, make the point where you are and move on to your next point. When commenting on the contemporary relevance of Japanese writers’ treatments of the theme(s) you chose to examine, feel free to make meaningful references to and connections with other courses you have taken, other literary works you have read, films you have watched, experiences you have had or know about, song lyrics, past or current historical, political, social events, situations, dilemmas, etc.
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