Write an essay comparing any two of the texts that we have read this semester (see texts at the end))

Write an essay comparing any two of the texts that we have read this semester (except The Left Hand of Darkness), focusing on how they represent a specific motif, theme, image, word, or idea. How is the image or idea treated similarly in the two stories and how is it treated differently? Your paper should make a contestable, interpretive argument about one specific way in which those differences and/or similarities are unexpected, interesting, and significant to the overall meanings of the stories. You may choose any two of the texts that we have read so far, including, short stories, essays, autobiography, and poetry.
Your final paper should be 4-5 pages long and should make a genuinely contestable argument about two of the texts that we have read. Although I’ve given you some examples of possible topics, please feel free to choose your own topic. Your paper should contain MLA-style citations of any sources that you use (including the primary text) and should be double-spaced with 12-point Times New Roman font and standard margins. You do not need to consult any sources other than the primary texts, but if you decide to consult any outside sources, you must cite them properly. An introduction and thesis statement are required.
Examples:
1. God/Religion: Many of the texts that we have read are profoundly shaped by their use of religious imagery or by representations of their characters’ religious beliefs and doubts. Choose two of the texts on our syllabus and make a specific, contestable argument comparing how they represent religious belief or practice. Do the texts endorse or challenge traditional religious beliefs? Do they suggest that God is just, vengeful, forgiving, arbitrary, or imaginary?
2. Gender: Choose two of the texts on our syllabus and make a specific, contestable argument comparing how they represent or challenge traditional concepts of gender in America. How do the texts characterize what it means to be a man or a woman? What do they suggest about the abilities, limitations, and obligations of men or women?
3. Nature: Choose two of the texts that we have read and make a specific, contestable argument about how they represent the relationship between humans and nature. What does it mean for something to be “natural”? Do the texts portray humans as products of their natural environment, or are they at war with nature? Do the texts associate nature with chaos and lawlessness, with innocence and purity, with evil, or with something else? Pay attention to the specific language (scientific, religious, pastoral, etc.) and imagery that the authors use to describe places and objects in the natural world.
4. Baltimore: Choose two of the texts that we have read and make a specific, contestable argument about how they represent the city of Baltimore and its inhabitants. What are the city’s most important attributes? Who is a “real” Baltimorean?
5. Please feel free to invent your own paper topic. I would be happy to discuss paper topic ideas with you during my office hours or over email.
TEXTS THAT WE DID:
Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Zora Neale Hurston, “How It Feels to Be Colored Me”
W. E. B. DuBois, “Jesus Christ in Georgia
Edgar Allan Poe, “The Masque of the Red Death”
“The Cask of Amontillado”
Edgar Allan Poe, “MS. Found in a Bottle”
Poe, “Sonnet—To Science”
“Some Words with a Mummy”
Poe, “William Wilson”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Poe, “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Black Cat”
Poe, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”
Dashiell Hammett, “Crooked Souls”
James M. Cain, “The Baby in the Icebox”
David Simon, “Stainless Steel”
Laura Lippman, “Ropa Vieja”
Edgar Allan Poe, “The Raven
Lucille Clifton, “poem in praise of menstruation,” and “to my last period” from Blessing the Boats and “won’t you celebrate with me”;
Tupac Shakur, “The Rose that Grew from Concrete” and “In the Depths of Solitude”

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