World History to 1500
Write a FULL four-page (double-spaced, in 12-pt Times New Roman font) argumentative essay that analyzes Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali and Diary of Lady Murasaki. Compare and contrast the societies of Old Mali and Heian Japan, using the two sources. Discuss similarities and/or differences between the two societies and argue why you think it is important to note these (similarities and differences). And you MAY respond to one of the following questions:
a. How do Sundiata and the Diary of Lady Murasaki portray the gender relations in Old Mali and in Heian Japan? What powers did men and women in? How do they use their influence?
b. How do these sources portray political hierarchies of these two societies? What contributes to one’s political empowerment in these societies? Or, what symbolizes ones’ power in these societies?
c. What are the roles of the storytellers and historians in Old Mali and Heian Japan? How do the griots contribute to your understanding of Old Mali? In comparison, how do lady Murasaki’s diary help you understand Heian Japan? Are their roles similar or different? How and why?
Guideline for Essays
Your papers will be graded for depth, clarity, and style. The successful paper contains an original and innovative thesis. It argues this thesis in an effective manner, supporting all parts of the argument with ample textual evidence. The prose is clear, direct, and eloquent, and is unmarred by grammatical, syntactical, or typographical errors. The arguments are not only unified and coherent, but also complex and nuanced. The paper persuades the reader that the argument being made is of fundamental importance to an understanding of the text or texts under discussion.
Read and re-read your essay for content as well as form — is it persuasive? Is it interesting? If you are writing a comparative paper, have you shown why this particular comparison is illuminating to both texts?
1. Your paper should have a title. The title should not simply summarize the topic, but should give the reader a reason to want to read the paper.
2. Structure the paper clearly into three parts: an introduction, a body and conclusion.
3. The thesis of your essay should be stated clearly in the introduction. The thesis is not a reiteration of an assigned topic, but a specific, original position on the topic, which has been arrived at through analysis of the material.
The thesis should be advanced, rather than restated throughout the paper — each time you return to the thesis, you should be deepening the central argument. A void repetition without development.
Avoid sweeping generalizations, such as “history tells us …” or “man has always …” Also, avoid using vague terminology, such as “society” or “human nature” without qualifying explanations about how a given author is using these terms.
Avoid summarizing or rehashing the class discussions without adding anything new – these discussions should serve as a starting point for your own argument
4. Use specific examples from the text to support your argument, and offer citations with appropriate references for your examples.
If you are borrowing information from any source, for these papers, put page numbers in parenthesis right after the sentence. For example: (Sundiata, 32) (Diary, 30)
Don’t ignore evidence that contradicts your thesis, but acknowledge or refute it
5. At the same time, do not rely too heavily on quoted material at the expense of analysis. Do not offer lengthy summaries of plot or philosophical argument, but only draw on those specific details that are directly relevant to your own argument.
6. Proofread your paper carefully. If possible, have a friend proofread your paper as well. Do not rely exclusively on Spell Check, Autocorrect, or other computer programs (especially computer thesauri, which tend to be inaccurate).
Assuming that the reader of your paper is your friend in a different class would be helpful. Do not assume that the reader is your instructor who can figure out what you are discussing. Clearly and specifically explain what/why/how you are analyzing.
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