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English 2111 critical response topics

Turn in critical responses either in hard copy or D2L, and be sure to exceed the 200 word minimum (in the body of the response, excluding name, date, header, etc.): responses shorter than 200 words will not pass. Avoid plot summary or straightforward retelling of "what happens" in the work—see nugget 1.

Format your response according to MLA guidelines for margins, spacing, name, date, headers, etc. as outlined on my "simple stuff" page. Works cited pages are unnecessary for critical responses. Even without works cited pages, though, do still follow the MLA conventions for documenting quotations as explained in Q1-4 on my quotations page.



1.4 Due Thursday, January 26: Explore the continuing development of Odysseus's character or personality in Books VII-XII, including at least one quotation from two separate "books" to support your observations. Basically, discuss leading traits or qualities in Odysseus demonstrated through his adventures in Books 7-12.  For the mechanics of citing verse in a multi-part (or multi-"book") poem, see Q4, especially Q4mp

On deck:

1.5 Due Tuesday, January 31: Address either a or b, not both:
a) Being careful to avoid plot summary (
nugget 1), discuss the use of deception in Books XIII-XVIII (by Odysseus, certainly, and others as well). Identify different types of deception and analyze the different motives behind each instance of deception you discuss. Include quotations from at least three different "books" to illustrate your claims. For the mechanics of citing verse in a multi-part (or multi-"book") poem, see Q4, especially Q4mp

b) Open assignment: respond analytically to anything that strikes you as interesting or significant in any two or more different "books" in Tuesday's reading (XIII-XVIII), including at least three quotations, at least two coming from different books.  Be careful to avoid plot summary (
see nugget 1). For the mechanics of citing verse in a multi-part (or multi-"book") poem, see Q4, especially Q4mp

1.6 Due Thursday, February 2: Address one, not both:
a) What are we to make of the ancient Greeks' attitudes about women, at least as far as they are conveyed in the Odyssey? You may discuss events from anywhere in the entire epic, but do quote from Books XIX-XXIV at least twice in your response (see Q4, especially Q4mp).

b) The traditional epic, by definition, focuses on a central character of great significance to his people or nationa king, or a mighty warrior, or a champion of his people in different important respects. And most of the central characters in epics tend to be of high social standing (royalty, nobility, "upper class" in whatever social system the epic portrays). Discuss the thematic importance of common characters in the conclusion of the Odyssey ("common" meaning essentially "working class"). Note that you must speak on matters of theme here: it would be a matter of plot to say that certain common characters "help Odysseus," e.g. Concentrate on how the common characters help convey one or more of the work's overriding "messages." Quote from Books XIX-XXIV at least three times to illustrate your claims (see Q4, especially Q4mp).


Previous critical response topics—no longer valid for submission:

1.1 Due Tuesday, January 17th: Epics typically convey a variety of core ideals from the nation, culture, or people depicted in the work. Quoting Gilgamesh at least twice to illustrate your claims, explain what traits, qualities, or ideals this epic reveals as important to the ancient Babylonian society depicted in the poem. For the mechanics of citing poetry, see Q4.

1.2 Due Thursday, January 19th:If you had to pin down one theme as the central overriding "message" of Gilgamesh, what would this message be?  Identify the most important plot elements or events that help the author deliver this message, and back up your assertions with at least two quotations from the poem itself. For the mechanics of citing poetry, see Q4.

1.3 Due Tuesday, January 24: Choose onedo not address both:  
a)
Compare the relationship between gods and humans, or the involvement of the gods in the lives of mortals, in Gilgamesh and the first few books of the Odyssey. Include at least three quotations from two or more of the Odyssey's "books" to illustrate your claims. For the mechanics of citing verse in a multi-part (or -"book") poem, see Q4, and especially Q4mp.

b) Discuss the cultural or personal qualities or ideals The Odyssey suggests were important to the Greeks in the time of Homer, including at least three quotations from different "books" to illustrate your claims. For the mechanics of citing verse in a multi-part (or "book") poem, see Q4, and especially Q4mp