Mary Rowlandson, Meet Sherman Alexie

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Passage-Based Paper

Texts from anthology: Alexie, “How to Write the Great American Indian Novel”

Supplemental Texts: none

Recommended length: 1-2 pages

Skills in academic writing necessary to do well on the assignment: close textual analysis, interpretation

Intellectual task of the assignment: Select and transcribe a short passage from Alexie’s poem (2-3 sentences) onto the top of the page (including the page number from which the passage is taken) and then “unpack” the passage, paying close attention to the textual elements including the passage’s language, tone, and construction. First you will want to make observations about these or some textual elements (please feel free to re-quote certain phrases and words from the passage in order to work closely with them) and then you will need to ask “So What?” in order to consider their significance within the passage.

PBP

                                                                                               

Evaluating Alexie’s Project

Texts from anthology: Alexie, “How to Write the Great American Indian Novel”

Supplemental Texts: Leslie Marmon Silko, Short stories
Louise Erdrich, selections from Love Medicine
Bobbi Smith, selections from Half-Breed’s Lady
Stephanie Meyer, selections from New Moon
Harris, Rewriting: Chapters One and Two
Your Passage-Based Paper

Recommended length: 3-4 pages

Skills in academic writing necessary to do well on the assignment: Coming to terms, Forwarding, Countering

Intellectual task of the assignment: After reading some examples of the sort of texts Alexie references in his poem, think about what you think Alexie’s project might be with his poem, and how he pursues that project. Next, look back over your PBP, written in response to the poem before you encountered these contexts, and make an argument that evaluates the success of his project. Where do you see successful critique? Where does Alexie perhaps overstate the problem? How does he problematize the themes that you see in other texts? Why?

EWP
                                                                                               

The Preface and the Narrative

Texts from anthology: Rowlandson, “A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson”

Supplemental Texts: Harris, Rewriting: Chapters One and Two

Recommended length: 4-5 pages

Skills in academic writing necessary to do well on the assignment: Coming to Terms, Countering

Intellectual task of the assignment: In “A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson,” we are actually provided with two texts by two different authors. We have “The Preface to the Reader” by Rowlandson’s preacher, and the first-person account of her captivity. In this paper, you will “come to terms” with the two separate texts, and identify how each text complements the other’s project or disrupts it (or both simultaneously).

Read the preface and the captivity narratives, but think of them, for the moment, as separate texts. “Come to terms” with each of the texts, identifying what the project of each text is and how it establishes that project. Ask yourself where the two projects intersect, and especially how they intersect. Do they have the same method, the same goal, or some other similarity? Where might these two projects might be questioned in relationship to one another (as Harris suggests, think in terms of “yes, but…”). How would you characterize these differences? Is it a difference of substance, method, goal, etc.? Is there a difference at all?

                                                                                               

Introducing Alexie and Rowlandson

Texts from anthology: Rowlandson, “A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson”
Alexie, “How to Write the Great American Indian Novel”

Supplemental Texts: Find and read another captivity narrative to use in conjunction with Rowlandson’s text as primary sources to define the common features of captivity narratives, or find secondary sources discussing the features of captivity narratives
Your PBP and/or EWP

Recommended length: 6-7 pages

Skills in academic writing necessary to do well on the assignment: Formulating a Question, Forwarding and Countering texts, Argumentation/Thesis Statement

Intellectual task of the assignment: For this assignment, you will pursue a question or tension prompted by Alexie and Rowlandson’s projects, and develop your own project. You may want to use Alexie’s project as a lens through which to evaluate captivity narratives, or you may want to use the captivity narratives to question the ways in which Alexie pursues his project. Or you may want to take an entirely different angle altogether. Your primary goal for this assignment is to formulate your own question about the various tensions and themes of these texts, and pursue it by working closely with source material.