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English 227, Modern World Literature, Spring 2020


Ethics of Representation / Global Citizenship Essay


Final Exam aside, this essay represents the culmination of the broader goals of the course:

Eng227-specific goals

  • Develop critical thinking skills through close reading, analysis, and discussion of literary texts and the issues they raise;
  • Improve writing skills by articulating one’s understanding of and response to texts in a variety of writing situations, from short response to full-length essay;
  • Recognize that the form of a text cannot be separated from its content, that attempts to represent the unrepresentable present authors with potentially intractable problems, and that those are fraught with ethical implications: who represents what and how. 

Quest II, Ethical Reasoning, and Signature Question Goals

  • Analyze the principles of ethical reasoning that underpin the choices individuals and societies make related to intercultural encounters as they are manifested in several works of modern world literature;
  • becoming aware of our own perspectives and the frames of reference we use to make ethical decisions;
  • recognizing the complexity inherent in ethical decision-making;
  • comparing and contrasting the ethical reasoning of divergent groups or individuals on key issues raised by the literature we will study;

Global Citizenship Goals

  • Understand the ways in which competing cultural frameworks or value systems (between and within societies) have shaped historical and contemporary global challenges;
  • Identify the ways in which identities are constructed by various cultural forces, including those involving the exercise of power and privilege.


As we engage Phillips’ Nature of Blood, and look back on the semester, in particular, Diop’s Murambi, you will explore, with the help of academic sources, the strategic and formal choices each author made, consider the objectives those choices seem to have been made to achieve (or the obstacles they attempt to overcome), and, while steering clear of mere evaluation, assess the results of those choices. While still a formal paper, requiring appropriate language, cited evidence, and incorporation of scholarship, these essays are intended to be more reflective and exploratory than a traditional research-based term paper.

Because of the substantial contextual limitations (mostly but not exclusively related to time), I am not asking you to develop a traditional thesis or argument or to structure your project in the same cohesive way you would in an upper level essay for which you had a month or more to focus, structure, compose, and revise.  You have a lot of latitude in how you organize, sequence, and develop your discussion, so long as you do have meaningful paragraphs.

Rather, your project is meant to be an exploration (and comparison) of those issues as they are manifested in these two novels, with reference to some of the broad crucial issues noted by Samuel, Zierler, and many others. 

To conclude your project, I would like you to return to our Global Citizenship emphasis.  As we prepare to be, or continue to be, globally aware citizens in the 21st century, how might these texts, and the problems and concerns they force us to engage, help to foster a greater sensitivity to and respect for the other, wherever and whoever that other might be? (all while remaining cognizant that we are, in turn, those others’ other).  Craps's discussion of cross-cultural empathy might be useful here.

Minimum Requirements

Aside from the obvious basic elements of document presentation, articulation, and documentation, it is expected that your project will incorporate the following in some form or another:

  • substantial (and cited) reference to both novels;
  • substantial (and cited) reference to both Samuel and Zierler;
  • reference to some of the other background resources I have provided for the novels, such as "On the Writing of Murambi" and Phillips' short essays;
  • substantial (and cited) reference to at least one other scholarly source related to Diop and/or Phillips.  I have provided recommended sources for you in Canvas (Hitchcott, Craps, and Clingman), but you are not limited to those.

The first two of these requirements, and even the third, ought to be ones for which you already have ample material from our prior work.  Only the last constitutes new reading and research.

Length/Due Date

  • Essay length may vary substantially, depending on the result you hope to achieve (course standards for work should be clear enough by now), but your essay will probably exceed 1500 words / 5 pages, not including Works Cited.

  • Complete Draft due for the writing workshop Monday, May 11

  • Submit your revised essay to Canvas in either .docx or .pdf format by 2pm Friday, May 15*
    Bring your draft to class on Wednesday. If you want to keep it as you revise your essay, then drop it off at my office sometime Friday, but make sure I receive it.

Yes, I am giving you until Friday to complete your revised essay. That's entirely for your benefit, so that you have as much time as possible to maximize the quality of your final project for the course. You may submit your revised essay earlier, but do not regret not taking advantage of the additional time I am offering you.


Contact: henson@uwosh.edu     English Department   Updated: January 27, 2020