Monday, January 17, 2011

Prompts for Friday's Blog Post

Note 1:  as I add prompts, I will edit this post, so you only have one place to look.  Just be aware of that - if on Monday you don't see a prompt you like, check on Tuesday, but check the same post - don't look for a different one.

Note 2:  The prompts for this week will deliberately focus on Butler.  That doesn't make Marcuse less important - that just means that you'll have some time to read, re-read, and ask questions before writing on him.

  1. The main body of Butler's text (which, although it reads mostly like a conventional first person narrative, is theoretically Lauren Olamina's diary) is interwoven with Earthseed verses.  All of these are deeply important to the text as a whole.  Pick one verse which particularly interests you, and write a short essay analyzing some event in the text using that verse.  How does the incident illustrate the verse, for instance.  Doing this prompt well requires that you take Olamina's status as a religious thinker and leader seriously - for the purposes of this prompt, it might be a good idea to think of the novel as a series of parables (drawn from Olamina's life) illustrating her religious theory or principles.
  2. This one is especially for the bio and bioengineering majors.  Butler's text draws, both visibly and invisibly, on contemporary biology.  Take one biological theory or text (a specific one - not as vague, for instance as "evolution") and use it either to make an argument about Butler's text or views, or to argue that she is explicitly rooting herself in a theory or text (and then, knowing that theory or text, how do we understanding Butler differently).  For example, look at one of the following:
    1. This is Robert Trivers' famous paper on reciprocal altruism.
    2. Multilevel selection is highly relevant to Butler's text.  Here's one example paper; I'm sure many of you could find something better.  
  3. Pick a specific part of the text (probably based in a single passage, although it may appear elsewhere) which seems to offer a *critique* of our society.  What, specifically, about our society, does Butler seem to be objecting to, and what is the implied or explicit alternative (keep in mind that Lauren't religion as well as her biology are a starting point to understanding offered alternatives).  Remember - you are talking about one criticism, not three or seven:  you are arguing that she is making a criticism and presenting an alternative, and you may also chose to evaluate her viewpoint.  This option might make use of Marcuse, but that is a suggestion, not a requirement.  (This option was added after class)
NOTE:  Unlike with your Monday posts, you should post your essays on the main page, *not* as a comment.


    1. I'd like to ask some questions about the response blogs that I'm sure at least one other person is wondering:

      -How formal do these essays need to be? Mainly, can we use opinion? Can we use 'I', etc.
      -Just to confirm,the length of the piece ought to be more than 700 words, right?

    2. 700 words, or 2-3 pages in word. That isn't meant to be precise or restrictive - it's just an estimate.

      As far as formality goes - you should use standard written english, politely and concisely, and aim at a college level audience. As far as 'opinion' and 'I': you are writing an essay (an argument), which, by definition, requires opinion. The trick is that you need to *defend* your opinion. And you should never hesitate to use the word 'I'; avoiding it only leads to bad writing.

    3. Hey there-

      The most we're allowed to post here is 4096 characters apparently, and my response is over that. What should I do?

    4. Sorry for the lack of clarity - post on the main page, not as a comment, and you should be fine.