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Folk Tales as Cultural Productions


Folk Tales as Cultural Productions

This third essay assignment asks you to think about the Middle Eastern and African folk tales. For this essay, you may only reference these specific works, though some minor citation and use of secondary sources is allowed. Since this is a close-reading essay, however, please use secondary sources only sparingly. Be sure to focus your essay on a strong thesis, organize it around a few specific main points, and support your response with evidence from the text or texts you are discussing, especially quotations, as you respond to one (1) of the following prompts:

  • Looking at either the Middle Eastern Tales or the African Tales, focus on 2 or 3 main characters’ goals, actions, and/or social mores. Create an argument that explains what do these characters show you about the ideals and values of the culture from which they come. Support your claims through interpretation of direct and specific evidence from the texts you’re discussing.
  • Choose one (1) tale from the Middle Eastern Tales and one from the African Tales, and create a thesis that compares what these showed you about the audience for those readings in terms of what they found important and/or entertaining. Do the tales seem to show any shared values, or are they completely different?
  • Compare the role that religious teachings seem to play within one or two stories. Are they central? Peripheral? Completely unrelated? If necessary, do some research on the religions being represented so that you can work from an informed viewpoint.
  • Some of the African stories we read focus heavily on animals as protagonists. Why do you think that the tellers chose to use animals in these roles? What would change if a human figure were to be used?
  • Make your own topic: come up with your own critical question about the assigned works from this unit, and write an essay arguing for your answer to that question. If you choose to do this prompt, please note that you are required to post your critical question and working thesis to the Week 9 Essay forum so that you can receive feedback from your instructor and classmates.

Please be sure your essay also meets the following guidelines:

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  • Has a word count of 600-900 words (check with your instructor before submitting anything longer)
  • Includes the student-teacher cover letter
  • Format the essay using MLA essay format (see the attached sample essay) and MLA-style citations, including a works cited list at the end; for help with MLA format, please visit Diana Hacker’sResearch and Documentation Online
  • Spell check, and watch out for homonyms!

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