Personal responsibility: This essay includes the integration of outside sources; it, therefore, requires students to demonstrate personal responsibility as they use the words and ideas of other writers in an accurate and ethical manner. Citing sources properly isn’t just a matter of mechanics. It’s a question of personal responsibility (with real consequences for students) that overlaps with students’ responsibility to the academic community of which they are a part. The construction of a clearly articulated thesis statement supported by a careful analysis of textual evidence demonstrates critical thinking and communication skills. The development of a well-organized essay that demonstrates the correct use of grammar and other writing mechanics and demonstrates an awareness of the how to appeal convincingly to an audience further addresses the communication objective. The critical analysis of the way the selected text engages a significant issue of social responsibility addresses the social responsibility outcome.
Write a well-organized, effectively developed 3-5 page analysis of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. The paper should critically analyze the way the text engages a significant issue of social responsibility. You should anchor the paper’s argument with a clearly articulated thesis statement and use careful analysis of textual evidence from the novel to support your claims. While you analyze the novel, you should consider how the social issue from the novel relates to a local issue in your own community or to a significant regional, national, or global issue. How does Achebe’s novel help you understand better the social issue or the issue of social responsibility in the contemporary world? Do you observe similarities or differences or both between the social issue in the novel and in your own world?
Possible Areas of Focus:
Colonialism and/or empire; cultural difference, cultural negotiation, and/or cultural discrimination; religious discrimination; class and/or economic oppression; national identity controversies; globalization and/or neo-colonialism; gender equality; tradition vs. modernity.
Your essay should be a Word document that is double spaced, with 1-inch margins, in 12-pt., Times New Roman (or some other easily readable) font. Follow the MLA’s recommendations for formatting, citation, and style.
In order to receive a passing grade on the signature assignment, students are expected to:
write an essay that is at least 3 pages long, but no more than 5.
integrate two appropriate sources.
have a thesis.
have a title.
incorporate evidence (i.e., quotations) from the literary text.
have a Works Cited page.
Put an MLA heading on the left-hand side of the paper.
Give your paper an original title which hints at your thesis or reflects your argument; highlight or underline your thesis statement.
Support the thesis in several body paragraphs by analyzing specific details, examples, and quotes from the story.
Document sources (e.g., quotes) using MLA Style.
Provide a List of Works Cited; the Works Cited page does not count toward the length requirement for the paper.
Submit your essay as a Word document using the Safe Assign Tool in Lesson 3; the SafeAssign Tool monitors for plagiarism.
The essay is due by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday of Week 3.
Critical thinking and communication skills
For this essay, you need to form an opinion/make a claim and develop an argument about a social issue in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Your opinion or position will be formulated into a thesis statement, and you need to defend your position using textual evidence – examples and quotations from Achebe’s novel and from outside sources.
In your introduction, you will create interest and provide the context for your argument and present your thesis statement. Your thesis will provide an interpretation of the text’s main theme by explaining what the novel suggests about a particular topic (e.g., colonialism, cultural change, tradition, etc.) through the use of a specific literary device (e.g., character, symbol, motif, etc.) or an aspect of the work (e.g., title).
In the body of the essay, you will discuss specific points that support your thesis, elaborating on your interpretation with examples and commentary. You will analyze your examples and quotes by explaining their significance. Don’t assume that your reader will know why you find a specific quote or example significant; you need to explain why it is significant or what it reveals about a symbol or character or a theme. You will also integrate outside sources to support or develop your points about Achebe’s novel, to engage in a conversation with critics you agree or disagree with, and/or to provide historical context relevant to your argument about the novel. Keep the use of outside sources and the length of quotes from outside sources to a minimum; this is your paper and should mainly focus on your argument about the novel. Always follow a quote with a commentary of your own linking the quote to your own argument.
Each body paragraph must begin with a topic sentence. A topic sentence is an idea or a claim that explains what point you will be arguing in that paragraph. You can think of a topic sentence as a mini-thesis statement for that paragraph. Notice that a topic sentence is not a statement of fact. Rather, a topic sentence is a claim about the story directly related to your thesis.
In the second part of the essay, you will explain how Achebe’s novel sheds light on a contemporary social issue or on contemporary attitudes about a problem of social responsibility. You may discover that even though Achebe’s novel is set in a different epoch and a different culture, it helps us understand similarities or differences across culture and time.
In the conclusion, you will summarize your main points and discuss the larger significance of the text for today’s readers and end with something memorable.
Responsible integration of sources
Students must properly integrate material from two secondary sources into their analysis in a way that gives credit to the authors whose ideas and language they are incorporating. This is not a research paper or a summary of the work of literature, but a paper in which you draw on secondary sources to communicate an interpretive argument about your chosen text through the lens of social responsibility. Instructors may wish to require their students to take the UTA Library’s plagiarism tutorial available at . This would be a separate assignment, not part of the signature assignment.
You should use two secondary sources to support your own claims, to engage in a conversation with other critics who you agree or disagree with, and/or to provide historical context relevant to your argument about the novel. Make sure you keep the use of secondary sources and the length of quotes from these sources to a minimum. Always provide a commentary/analysis of your quote. This is your papers and should mainly focus on your argument about the novel! For more on how to use quotes from primary and secondary sources effectively, go to Norton’s LitWeb – “Effective Quotation – Useful Strategies”:
Here is a list of credible secondary sources:
National newspapers (e.g., New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star Telegram)
Print magazines (e.g., The Atlantic, Harper’s, New Yorker, Time, Newsweek)
Online magazines (e.g., Slate, Salon)
Scholarly articles (e.g., academic articles published in peer-reviewed journals; you can find citations for these articles by using the MLA International Bibliography database, Literature Resource Center, J-STOR, or Project Muse—all of which UTA’s library gives you access to online: http://libguides.uta.edu/az.php)
Scholarly books or book chapters (it’s a good bet a book is scholarly if it’s published by an academic press, such as Duke University Press; if you’re not sure, ask your instructor)
Historical documents (e.g., old newspaper articles, letters, speeches, journal entries) from academic databases (see the History subject guide on the library website for ideas)
Students interested in using a source that isn’t listed here, should check with their instructor.
NOTE: SparkNotes, CliffsNotes, and similar sources are not considered legitimate academic sources. Do not quote, paraphrase, summarize, or allude in any way to the content on these websites or in similar sources.
MLA Documentation Style
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