Grace is in a writing 101 class, Building Stories with Dr. Churchill. Here is the collection of her writing from the class.
This essay assignment invites you to join in what Maria Popova calls “an intellectual dance with another mind.” You will create a blog post of your own (1000 words max), as if you were a guest contributor to BrainPickings.org.
We are a collage of our interests, our influences, our inspirations, all the fragmentary impressions we’ve collected by being alive and awake to the world. Who we are is simply a finely-curated catalogue of those. – Maria Popova
Choose a book that meets Popova’s criteria of containing “both timeliness and timelessness.” You may choose a book assigned for this class, a book you are reading for another course at Davidson, or something you’ve read in the past—as long as you have access to a copy. The book you choose should be challenging and complex, requiring deep concentration and sustained attention, whether it’s a novel, poem, play, or work of history, politics, philosophy, or science. It should be something your classmates might not read or understand on their own without you operating as a “trailblazer…finding a useful trail” through the work’s singular contribution to “the common record” of human knowledge.
Alison Bechdel describes Fun Home as the story “of how my closeted gay dad killed himself a few months after I came out to my parents as a lesbian.” The marketing team for the Broadway musical jokingly refer to it a “lesbian suicide musical.” And in a Times review, Ben Bradley calls it “a universal detective story.” Clearly Fun Home means different things to different people. Become a detective and look closely at the graphic memoir and what experts have said about it.
Craft a 1250 word essay that makes an argument about Fun Home by joining in conversation with others. Agree, disagree, or agree and disagree with a specific claim, approach, or assumption by Judith Thurman, Kalle Oskari Mattali, and/or Scott McCloud.
Compose an essay (1250 words max) in which you make an argument about how scholars have analyzed and portrayed Ken Kesey’s 1963 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Your task is to summarize different positions that have been staked out in a debate about this novel, enter the conversation, and make an original contribution to the debate. Your contribution should be summarized in a strong, analytical thesis or crux—a statement that a reasonable person might not agree with, not see, or fail to understand without your intervention. You should develop this thesis in conversation with others, both those you agree with and those you disagree with. Support your argument with credible, authenticated evidence and counter evidence. Your evidence will come from the scholarly arguments (secondary sources) and from the novel (primary source). Analyze and explain how the evidence supports your point, and discuss how counter evidence works against you. Don’t avoid evidence that contradicts your claim: engage with it, allowing it to complicate and strengthen your argument.
You are encouraged to join in conversation with Caroline Leach (“Disability and Gender”) Manuel Muñoz (“The Problem of Nurse Ratched”), Wilson Kaiser (“Disability and Native American Counterculture”), and/or Amy S. Fatzinger (“Echoes of Celilo Falls and Native Voices”), and address an issue related to gender constructions, disability representations, or Native American culture in the novel.
Choose an issue relevant to national debates about mass incarceration, police brutality, or structural racism. Draw upon the readings you have already done for class and zero in on a particular issue, conflict, problem, or statistic. Choose a topic or question that is small enough for you to become an expert (and that you can address in 1500 words)—to contribute a fresh insight or perspective based on your knowledge, experience, and perspective as an undergraduate at Davidson.