Readings for Writers: Relationships - Bedford/St. Martin
EasyWriter – Andrea Lunsford (handbook packaged with reader)
The Medea - Euripides - trans. Rex Warner (intro by Richmond Lattimore)
M. Butterfly - David Hwang
(assorted handouts and materials on Blackboard)
English 101 at Tulane is intended to further your understanding of and control over the conventions of public and academic discourse. To this end, you will read assigned works with a critical eye, discuss them, analyze them, and respond to the issues and ideas discussed in thoughtful, well-reasoned essays. The course emphasizes writing analytical and argumentative essays, incorporating research and evidence into your papers, using argumentative strategies, and developing style and tone. Completion of English 101 should therefore prepare students for appropriate writing in a variety of disciplines whether it be science, business, engineering, or traditional liberal arts. The assigned texts will be used to spur insights in areas of individual interest and will offer an opportunity to write about the topic from a cross-disciplinary context. Students, through the readings, will create and support an argumentative claim and use information honestly and appropriately with proper documentation and careful research techniques (when required), and correct writing using standard forms of written English, including correct syntax, punctuation, and spelling. Essays must be original, analytically astute, thoroughly developed, supported and documented, coherent, and aware of audience. Workshops on writing and grammar as well as peer editing of drafts will help students prepare final copies of essays in proper form and format.
Through readings, film showings, and class discussions, this course will examine how relationships have evolved from the Greeks, to the Elizabethans, to theVictorians, to the Moderns, and to our present society. Readings that draw on ancient literature, modern and contemporary literature and perhaps some film and television will be the impetus for academic/critical writings in an attempt to discover how historical, cultural, and societal beliefs about personal relationships have shifted and changed (yet ultimately managed to remain the same in many ways) over the centuries. We will be focusing on personal relationships of western culture in most instances (except for M.Butterfly and in some ways Othello). Feel free to venture into other cultures, especially if you represent a different culture. What does it mean to have a relationship, to fall in love, to experience jealousy, to grapple with betrayal of love? The materials presented in this course will explore and spotlight the complexities of personal relationships from various centuries. Definition, analogy, process, argument will all offer ways to approach this topic and will help you contexualize your own views.
As we move through the course, we will cover the fundamentals of critical and argumentative writing as well as the basics of reading critically and thinking logically. Assignments will include three major papers (two that include research)and ten short paper made up of annotated bibliographies and accompanying preparations, response essays, peer response workshops, and in-class discussions and presentations. Several projects/presentations/responses will also be a part of the course (see grading policy).
“On the afternoon of October 24th, 1917, four days after my marriage, my wife surprised me by attempting automatic writing. What came in disjointed sentences, in almost illegible writing, was so exciting, sometimes so profound, that I persuaded her to give an hour or so day after day to the unknown writer, and after somehalf dozen such hours offered to spend what remained of life explaining and piecing together those scattered sentences. ‘No’was the answer, ‘we have come to give you metaphors for poetry.’” W. B. Yeats - A Vision, 1938
Although we all cannot channel the muse of poetry through mystical, automatic writing to help with our own writing, no writing (from freewriting to brainstorming to response essays to finished products) is useless. In fact, even what seems as the most inconsequential writing might lead to greater insights and may even develop into full-fledged, coherent and stylistically polished essays. Keeping this in mind, what follows are some ideas behind the course that will help explain the tools used to begin putting pen to paper or fingers to keys.
Students who have successfully completed this class should
Understand invention as a tool for generating ideas within a specific context—in this case, academic discussion about personal relationships. Students will practice this skill through attendance and class participation, as well as through written assignments. Students will cultivate this skill by participating daily in class discussion of assigned readings, writing ten short papers that grow out of reading and discussion, and also three larger papers that address more ambitious topics that range over several readings at once and that revise and synthesize the shorter papers. The particular invention strategies we will study are freewriting, critical reading, kairos, stasis, ethos, pathos, inductive and deductive logic, and commonplaces.
Understand revision as an essential step in structuring and developing a text to connect with a particular
audience–in this case, an audience comprised of one’s classmates and me, as well as other academic readers. Students will cultivate this ability by synthesizing the shorter writings into major papers, by significantly revising and recombining the first two major papers into a longer paper, and perhaps rewriting the works of others (classmates and/or the authors we’ll read).
Understand analysis as a way of reading the text. Students will cultivate this skill through their written assignments, which will often ask them to address several texts at once, which allows them to understand what makes a text both similar to and different from a related text. Students will also participate in class discussion that will allow them to become familiar with different ways one may enter the discourse on relationships. They will cultivate this skill in each of the major writing assignments of the semester.
Understand argument as a unique form of writing that differs greatly from a literary text, a mode of language-use that can include but that ultimately differs from narration, description, exploration, and ornamentation, among others. The handout on argument (Blackboard) will assist in this matter.
Understand style as a tool for tinkering with sentences and paragraphs to manage ever greater complexity ever
more coherently and, ultimately, to tap into the “musical” dimension of language’s power. Classical rhetoric
discussions will assist with this skill.
Understand research as a skill that involves exploring a variety of sources in order to provide academically appropriate evidence for their arguments. Students will cultivate this skill by participating in an in-class writing workshop, as well as by including at two secondary sources in at least two major papers. You may find that you
will incorporate research in all major papers.
Texts: Bring to class any text and/or materials that have been assigned for that class meeting.
Prepare a folder/portfolio to maintain all papers and written materials (including freewriting, peer editing, brainstorming, drafts, etc.). Have this with you at all times and keep all writings.
ATTENDANCE: ATTENDANCE IS MANDATORY IN 101. Please expect to come to class on time and not to leave before the designated time. I take the attendance issue seriously. If a student is unable to attend class, it is his/her responsibility to obtain notes or assignments. The course moves too quickly to accommodate students who need to make up late assignments or who miss workshops. If you miss more than THREE unexcused absences classes, your final grade will be lowered one letter for each additional unexcused absence. If a student arrives in class after having been counted as absent, the instructor is not obligated to suspend class business and amend the record; in other words significant tardiness is the same as absence. More than three absences and/or excessive tardiness will be reported to your dean; two or more reports will result in your being withdrawn from the course. Please call or see me if you have extensive medical or personal problems that necessitate continued and/or frequent absences from class. Since this is not a lecture class, attendance and participation are essential parts of your grade. Absence from class does NOT constitute an excuse for a late paper or rough draft assignment. Please arrange to have the paper delivered to class unless you have already made other arrangements with me.
CONFERENCES: In spite of all the above warnings, I invite you to come to my office for conferences during my office hours or by appointment as often as you like. There I can give your papers personal attention, and you can ask me questions about any concerns you may have about the course.
Assignments will include two five-six page papers, one eight page paper, ten one-two page papers, including two annotated bibliographies, and accompanying preparations and documentation, peer response workshops, and in-class discussions and presentations.
Any in-class writing will be double spaced, written on one side only. Pages must be numbered, and students must follow directions on paper guidelines, or your paper will be returned to you and a lower grade assigned each day it is late. Final papers must also be turned in electronically to “turnitin.com.” ID#1960512.
Any essays written outside of class should be typewritten, carefully proofread (corrections in pen are fine), double-spaced, 12 pt. font. Be prepared to submit the paper at the beginning of class on the due date. Because the course emphasizes the process of writing along with the product, you must submit all your pre-writing notes and your rough draft(s), as well as your peers' response statements, with the final draft to be placed in your portfolio.
Peer-response/Revision Workshops--You will be expected to provide careful and constructive responses to your classmates' drafts. The readers will offer written response to the statements of the writers. You will be expected to treat your fellow students and their ideas with honesty, respect, and courtesy.
Grading: Successful completion of this course requires that ALL assignments must be completed in a timely fashion. Failure to submit all assigned papers will result in an F for the course. Your final grade comes primarily from the grades you earn on your written essays, but participation in class discussions and workshops is vitally important as well and contributes to the final assessment of you grade.
2 papers of five pages each (plus revisions) - 20 points each
1 paper eight pages - 30
10 papers of two pages each - 2 points each
(these short papers will include a combination of annotated bibliographies, response papers, abstracts, etcetera). The short papers can be revised, expanded, and developed into longer paper .
Grading scale: A=95-100; A-=90-94; B+=87-89; B=83-86; B-=80-82; C+=77-79; C=73-76; C-=70- 72; D=60-69; F=59 or below
Attendance and in-class discussion, and workshop participation - 10 points
(You will be responding to these readings in class. Student participation
is expected. You will begin with a C simply by being present. You can
raise this grade by actively and productively engaging in small and large
group discussions in class. A= frequent and productive participation; B = some participation
but not consistent; C = extremely rare to speak in class. )
Access to the Blackboard site for this course is required for all students. I will post course handouts and materials that you will be responsible for on the site. In addition, please get into the habit of checking the announcements before class each day, such as reading prompts for the short response essays or in case I have posted any important, last minute information that you need to know.
Note: I do not accept written assignments through Blackboard’s Digital Drop Box or over email. Hard copies of your writing must be submitted at the start of class on the day they are due.
Plagiarism is unacceptable. Tulane expects academic honesty of all students. Do not try to submit someone else’s work (or the Internet’s) work as your own. Nor should you consider “loaning” someone else your work. All essays will have a great deal of in-class preparation: brainstorming, freewriting, rough drafts, peer editing, etc. Also, all sources for your papers must be carefully documented, and appropriate reference using quotation marks and citations must follow MLA guidelines. If you feel lost or need some extra time, see me and we will work something out. Do not resort to plagiarism. The penalties for plagiarism are severe: an automatic F for the course and immediate probation–a notation not able to be purged from your permanent record. To see the honor code for The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, go to this web-address: http://www.tulane.edu/~lasdean/honor%20code.htm#anchor75039.
“ The Honor Code for the Liberal Arts and Sciences of Tulane University defines plagiarism As unacknowledged or falsely acknowledged presentation of another person’s ideas, expressions, or original research as one’s own work. Such use is defined as plagiarism regardless of the intent of the student.”
READING AND WRITING SCHEDULE: This daily syllabus is simply a guide for the course. Class discussions and presentations will certainly alter dates and deadlines. It is important to attend class regularly as things change when the dynamics of the classroom shift. Also, on some days we will use the second hour of our class time for individual conferences for papers in progress. Grammar and writing techniques will be discussed as needed throughout the course.
Week 1 Aug. 29 - 31 - Intro to course and content, policies and procedures, class introductions. Intro to general grammar
errors. Read Wayne C. Booth, p. 1; Carver p. 16–be prepared to discuss in next class.
(1) For the second class this week, prepare a short essay (1-2 pages) responding to the Carver story and
attempting your own definition of the term “relationships.” What makes a relationship successful, happy,
unhappy? Discussion of classical rhetoric, esp. STYLE. If class does not meet this week, prepare
above for Monday's class.
Week 2 Sept. 5 - 7 - “Heav’n has no rage, like
love to hatred turn’d
Nor hell a fury, like
a woman scorned.” William Congreve (1670-1729), The Mourning Bride Day one: Intro to Greeks and culture and to invention and argument - Medea - Euripides text
Day two: be prepared to discuss The Medea and pay special attention to Medea’speech on p.66 (lines 215-265), the Chorus on p. 73 (lines 410-440), Jason’s argument p. 73 (lines 446-464), Medea’s rebuttal p. 74 (lines 465-519), Jason’s response p. 76 (lines 521-575). Freewriting, brainstorming, workshop. Read handouts on ANALYSIS and ARGUMENT in Blackboard.
Week 3 Sept 10 - 14 - Day one: Turn in short paper (2) evaluating and analyzingarguments presented in The Medea. Choose a side and evaluate the argument. Whose argument is more substantive and convincing? Why? How would you argue a position? Take into consideration the results of each argument presented. How could such results be avoided or altered? How would the situation be handled today? KAIROS Day two: Group work organizing and discussing short essays in preparation for first paper.
Begin expanding and exploring ideas that may be developed for the first major
paper topic. Sometimes the topic expands or takes on its own focus from
class discussions and interactions. Freewriting, brainstorming, etc. INVENTION
--You will be given first major paper assignment today—
Week 4 Sept. 17 - 21 – Day one - Bring in draft of first paper (two copies) - Peer editing in groups - ARRANGEMENT
Day two - Questions and discussion related to peer editing–loose ends tied up, revisions and
reworking of essays from peer editing. See handout on REVISION
--Intro to Shakespeare and Othello--
Week 5 Sept. 24 - 28 - Day one: First paper due
LIBRARY LESSON – research skills – LIB. Room 309?
Day two: Wyatt, p. 268; Othello, p. 156; John Donne, p.55, Robert Herrick, p.89
Short paper (3) – response to any combination of the above works. Do you
see any connections or intersections of concepts presented?
Choose a passage from any two works and prepare a short
rationale for choosing those two passages. Be prepared to
present ideas to the class–how do these passages relate to the
work as a whole? How do they relate to one another? Why
do you feel these two passages are significant to the discourse on our topic? STASIS
Oct. 1 - 5 - Day one: Discussions of passion, jealousy, and Elizabethan attitudes.
Short paper (4)– Prepare annotated bibliography on article on one of the following: Othello, issues of race in Shakepeare’s time, religion, women’s roles, marriage (husband/wife responsibilities), culture, concept of the other, or sociological or psychological aspects of
jealousy. Some articles will be posted on Blackboard, but you are free to explore journals for yourself if you find something that interests you. TOPOI
Day two: Freewriting, brainstorming, preparation of ideas for second paper. Start thinking
about the concept of the other—someone outside the mainstream who is alienated
or ostracized for being different.
Week 7 Oct. 8 - 12- Day one: Short paper (5) – From your own experience or the experience of someone you know,
write a short paper describing what it was like to be the other, to feel
ostracized, to be the different one. Make this a personal response, but
start thinking in terms of Medea and Othello and relationships. ETHOS
Week 8 (mid-term)
Oct. 15 - 19 - Day one: Read Browning, p.14; Maupassant, p. 96; Chekhov, p.27; Chopin, p. 42.
Group work with short paper. Bring in copy of Boyette Prize essay for discussion.
ETHOS, MEMORY, DELIVERY, AND LOGOS
Day two: Short paper (6) – Start thinking in terms of how Shakespeare might respond to or
imagine or react to Medea? What would Euripides think of Othello? What
would Euripides say to Shakespeare about his portrayal of Othello or vice versa?
Have fun, be inventive, draw connections, think intertextually, build on your
experience of both texts and both authors. Would they both respond to jealousy
in the same way? To betrayal? COMMONPLACES
Week 9 Oct. 22 - 26 - Day one: Discussion of readings and your papers. Workshop on second major paper topic.
Day two: Short paper (7) Using the readings from Week 8, try to make some connections
with discussions about Othello and Medea. For example, how do the texts
intersect or converse with main characters in Chopin, Maupassant, Browning, or Chekhov? Can any of those relationships be compared to each other or
to relationships in the plays? Are they defining and looking a the other in
a more timely fashion (KAIROS)? Do they intersect in terms of ideas
about otherness or difference? Be creative in your response. Choose one or two stories if you like.
Second Major Paper topic - discussion, freewriting, brainstorming. Bring in
your short papers and comments for elaboration and continued invention.
Week 10 Oct. 29 - Nov. 2 - Day one: Hemingway, p.84;Joyce, p.90; Lawrence, p. 96. Draft due - Peer editing of paper.
Day two: Workshop and peer editing. Bring in solid draft.
Week 11 Nov. 5 - 9 – Day one:Second Major Paper Due -
Roethke, p. 126; West, p. 260; Schiffren, p.148; Schulman, p. 150;El Saadawi, p. 127; Toth, p. 254. – Handout – Gluck poem "The Triumph of Achilles."
Day two: Short paper (8). Discuss issues of gender from readings – Schiffren, Schulman For ex. how do Schiffren and Schulman use DEFINITION in their arguments? OR respond to one of the other readings in terms of
father/son relationships, or relationships in other cultures—perhaps
connect with Medea and Othello?
Week 12 Nov. 12 - 16 - M. Butterfly - Hwang text (FILM?) Redefining relationships, gender issues, how related to
race, otherness, etc. from discussions of Othello and The Medea
or any other readings we have encountered this semester.
Day one: view film
Day two: Discussion - short paper (9) – respond to film any way you like.
Devor, p. 45
Discuss topic for final major paper
Week 13 Nov. 19 - (Nov. 21- 23 Thanksgiving holiday) - peer editing, etc. – NO CLASS – I will be in my office
for conferences from 8 – 1 on Monday the 19th
Week 14 Nov. 26 - 30 - Day one: Short paper (10) – discuss issues of gender – write paper exploring ideas
for final essay that builds or changes earlier work.
Day two: Rough drafts - workshop
Week 15 Dec. 3 - 7 – Day one: peer workshop, discussion
Day two: Final paper due (8 pages)
Major Assignment #1
Choose from one of the suggestions below and write a five-page essay that responds to one of the
prompts. Be certain to establish your position carefully in your introduction. Then keep that claim in mind as you complete each paragraph so that you maintain the focus of your essay. Make your examples specific and concrete–you may draw from personal experience if your position suggests it, but remember to keep the paper formal in language and tone as you develop the essay. Make certain that each paragraph is developed enough to clarify what you are saying. Look at the length of each paragraph, look for transitions between and within paragraphs, and make certain that your ideas are carefully connected to each other as you develop the thesis. Have a distinct introduction, body, and conclusion. See that the body develops and cites specifics (examples from text, from experience, from authority, etc.) sufficiently to make your position clear and to argue that your position is at least a legitimate one to consider. Tie ideas together with a solid concluding paragraph. The important point here is not to think in formulaic terms. Think of the suggested structure as a framework to the authorial position you hold as writer/creator of you own text.
If you use an outside source, be certain to include a Works Cited page and include proper internal documentation following MLA Guidelines (see handbook and handout on Blackboard). Citations from the text should be properly cited as lines of poetry and a citation of the text itself (The Medea) should appear on a Works Cited page as well.
This is your first major assignment and is worth 20 points. We will do in-class brainstorming, freewriting, revision, and peer editing. Think in terms of Aristotle’s five points of rhetoric (invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery) and of how to use the elements of invention such as ethos, pathos, logos. After reading your paper out loud, do you feel that you have offered sufficient proof in the most effective way, have you chosen the best or most effective structure to make your point using the clearest choice of words and ideas? Have you varied sentences and controlled tone so that your argument seems effective? Proof your paper carefully before turning it in and pay close attention not only to content, structure, and flow but also to grammar and punctuation. If you have questions or concerns, please see me.
1. In one of your short papers, you analyzed and argued that the position of either Jason or Medea was presented more convincingly than the other. Extend this essay shoring up more specifics and detailing how Euripides has convinced his audience or has manipulated his audience through the language and presentation of individual speeches. How have the elements of classical rhetoric discussed in class pertain to Euripides’ creative work? You may look at a critical article to help enhance your position, but be certain to cite, integrate, and document correctly.
2. Euripides’ The Medea raises issues that are contemporary to our times. In a well-reasoned essay,
argue that the play and its balanced set of arguments relate to a similar approach or issue in the present. For example, sensing that Medea is looked upon as “other,” “alien,” “barbarian,” etc. in the context of fifth century B.C.E. Greece, can we see such concepts at work within our own society or experience? Use insights and perspective you gain from reading the play to act as a springboard to your own idea (s).
Suggestions: immigration, profiling, preconceived prejudices about “the other.” Or do you have a personal experience that mirrors or expands or reflects the ideas presented in the text about the relationships we have with those who are not exactly like us? You should be creative and find your own voice, style, and approach. These are just suggestions.
Major Paper #2
We have examined individual works of literature and critical articles on that literature to discover numerous ways to approach a text and to open up ideas from a text to the larger world in which we live. Also, we have explored Plato's concepts of male "birthing" of ideas from Socrates' discussion with Diotima in The Symposium. In her article "Conceiving Jealousy: Othello's Imitated Pregnancy," Melanie H. Ross explains how Shakespeare drew on a long rhetorical tradition to merge the ideas of others with his words in order to create ("birth") a new text. Ross writes: "Rhetorical imitation, the primary method of rhetorical study in Shakespeare's day, entails taking in words from another author until, in the ideal Erasmian version, they merge with one's own words and self to emerge as something new and original yet deeply stamped and impressed by the source of imitation. The resulting creation is imbued with the spirit of both self and other, a mixture and synthesis of both" (13).
In a sense what we have been doing in our own writing—from the annotated bibliography to the actual production of original papers—is creating (birthing) our own ideas about texts and merging those ideas with the texts themselves. Although we are not creating original creative pieces like Shakespeare, class discussions, research, and short writing assignments all combine to help formulate a new text. As T. S. Eliot has suggested, we are building on what we know of other writers to make our own. For this assignment, therefore, you should keep in mind that you are building your own creation on a foundation laid out previously, yet you are in actuality "birthing" something new and original. Instead of producing a play or a poem, you are arguing a position based on the merging of your ideas with the ideas of others. You will need at least ONE outside source but no more than FOUR for this assignment. Keep quotations and references to a minimum and write your own argument simply referencing others where necessary. Writing is a form of re-writing. Keep that in mind as you develop your position and your argument.
We have researched, discussed, brainstormed, etc. for topics. I would like this assignment to give you the freedom to examine some particular perspective that is of interest to you as you write and develop ideas. Simply attempt to incorporate, as noted above, something from the readings and class discussions as you explore your own topic.
Some of you want a specific prompt from which to write, so I’ll provide that as well as list topics you have submitted. Choose one and be certain that you have enough to say and examine before you start writing.
1. We have discussed and written about the concept of “the other.” In the case of Medea and of Othello, we have seen that being set apart as different from the norm can have had disastrous effects. Recent instances in the news concerning those who view themselves as different or outside the mainstream have had equally devastating results. Create an argument that discusses and takes into account these issues—from school shootings to personal isolation/alienation to the plays or stories we have studied.
2. OR you can use the same information above, starting with the terrible effects of being the one
outside the mainstream and argue that although it can have disastrous effects, in some
instances being different can actually be something that turns out to be beneficial.
The suggestions you found interesting are listed below and can certainly be used for this assignment. Just be certain to take time to formulate your own prompt and discuss your thesis before moving forward. We can also add to the list if you find during your writing and researching that you would like to pursue the subject from a different perspective:
Mixed or interracial marriages
Psychology and effects of jealousy – undermining of self esteem? Or too much self-esteem?
Issues of race in society’s attitudes
THE OTHER – Arab, Black, Women, Asian, Hispanic, etc.
Effects of loving "too well” in a relationship. Excessive love
Why do we set certain people apart as role models and what does that say about us as society?
(Remember, Jason was a legendary hero)
Which trait most defines who we are—defined by ourselves or by others: race, culture, socio-economics, appearance, etc.
Final Paper - (8 page minimum, 2 legitimate outside sources required)
We have worked on all aspects of writing: mechanics and usage, transitions, organization of ideas, focusing your claim, preparing an argument properly, citing sources and documenting those sources internally and externally on a works cited page, rhetorical devices associated with argumentative writing (invention—logos, pathos, ethos--revision, arrangement, analysis, style, kairos), developing and expanding the good ideas and information you already have and ideas you have researched, and research skills. We have critiqued, summarized arguments from outside sources as well as arguments of your peers, and you have learned to identify and clarify places within an argument that are either incoherent or that need expansion and explanation.
This final essay should therefore incorporate all those things and present a clearly stated and defined claim/focus/thesis from which to build and expand your argument. Your writing has become more sophisticated and more substantive, and this final essay should embody the peak of that substance and sophistication. Be certain that you have enough information to work with before starting this project. We'll have time in class once again to peer edit and explore how to polish language and argument. Along the way we have discussed and analyzed literary works, and you have contributed fine insights and observations related to the readings. Look at what you have learned.
Below are suggestions for final paper topics. Be certain to choose something that interests you or that you feel strongly about. Just remember to do your research and to keep your argument balanced. You will have to address the opposing view and either refute it or acknowledge it and then prove that your position is a better one to hold. Many of the questions below pivot on the comment by David Hwang in his Afterword to M. Butterfly. Use it as you see fit:
"I consider it [the play] a plea to all sides to cut through our respective layers of cultural and sexual misperception, to deal with one another truthfully for our mutual good, from the common and equal ground we share as human beings" (100).
1. In M Butterfly Song tells Gallimard, "Well, education has always been undervalued in the West, hasn't it?" Using this quotation as your foundation, argue that this is true or false. There is a good deal of research about education in the East vs. education in the West to help develop your argument. Decide which position you feel is correct and take a stand.
2. We read articles on same-sex unions or marriage; there are numerous articles both pro and con. Take a stand on this issue and argue for or against it. Be certain to keep a balanced and rational approach. Religion really doesn't work as an example except for certain people who hold certain beliefs. Use logos mainly to argue your position and prove with examples and concrete specifics.
3. Should same-sex couples be allowed to adopt? The same applies here as above.
OR is interracial adoption a good idea or not?
4. Much of what we have read deals with cultural issues, especially M.Butterfly in considering how power dynamics work in stereotyping of the East by the West and vice versa. Much of what David Hwang puts forth in this play has to do with the importance of understanding differences in cultures and foreign practices. If we fail to learn about these practices and we misunderstand what other societies value, what does that portend for the future in a globally expanding world? In the film M. Butterfly, Gallimard states the following about the French presence in Indo-China before the Vietnam War: "We French lost our war in Indo-China because we failed to learn about the people we sought to lead. It was natural, therefore, correct even, that they should resent us." Use this comment as a starting point and argue its validity in world affairs—past or present or both. Set this up as an argument clearly and logically. The more specific, concrete examples you have, the better your argument will be.
5. Another issue that David Hwang raises in M. Butterfly has to do with power dynamics in relationships both cultural and personal, especially such binary oppositions as male/female, gay/straight, East/West, body/mind, reality/fantasy, personal/political. In her article "M. Butterfly: Orientalism, Gender, and a Critique of Essentialist Identity," Dorrine K. Kondo suggests that in relationships, particularly the relationship between Gallimard and Song, it is difficult to categorize "man" and "woman" to, as she claims "account for the multiple, changing, power-laden identities of his protagonists" (20). Michel Foucault in Discipline and Punish claims that "power produces; it produces reality; it produces domains of objects and rituals of truth" (194), and Kondo shows how Hwang's Foucauldian understanding of power forms "identities."
Using this information, argue how power dynamics function and shift in the personal or in the political arena. For example, consider the fact that several countries now possess nuclear capabilities. Does the illusion of power create power?
You might want to look up the Kondo article or read more of Foucault:
Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Allan Sheridan
New York: Vintage Books, 1979.
Kondo, Dorinne K. "Orientalism, Gender, and a Critique of Essentialist Identity."