Essay number1

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This first graded essay assignment, due by midnight Friday, March 9, is to be typed, double-spaced, around 6-8 pages. You have to submit the essay as a file upload in Word Doc; any other format — like pages or Google Doc — would be difficult to read. If you don’t have Word Doc on your computer, you can use any of the campus computers to transfer the draft. Also, as a student you can download a free Microsoft Office program (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. Any paper turned in past the due date will be given partial credit.

The paper will be reviewed under the three criteria of the Student Learning Outcomes: organization, content and grammar. Please make sure to quote and cite appropriately from the play to show support of your argument. [Use the handouts here and here.] DO NOT do any additional, outside research about the play for your paper; I am simply interested in your reading of the text.Please don’t hesitate to consult with me via message or email.

The assignment will require a structural analysis of William Shakespeare’s tragedy, Othello, first in terms of race and then of gender, with certain restrictions to be explained shortly.

Introduction: Summarize how the play is a tragedy, as defined in Aristotle’s Poetics, noting the moment of peripetia and anagnorisis. Summarize enough of the play in the introduction to set up the analysis, but keep it brief.

Thesis: Transition from the introduction to the thesis by answering the following question:

As a tragedy, how does Othello display the structural binaries of race (colonialism) and gender in the characters of Brabantio/Othello and Iago/Emilia, respectively?

Thus, an outline of the body parts of your paper will first consider race relations (or colonialism) in terms of Brabantio and Othello, and then consider gender in terms of Iago and Emilia. You will have to explain the characters and their relations to one another, and find passages in the play from each to illustrate these binaries. Again, quote and cite appropriately. So,…

…in the first body part of your essay, focus on how race or “other” backgrounds impact the community’s treatment of Othello and his “outsider” status. You may consider how Brabantio view Othello as inferior, despite his military heroism. [Remember that structural binaries always considers one side as “better” than the other; hence, the Eurocentric prejudice (in this case, Italian or Venetian) over non-European ethnic groups (African, Arabs, Turks, etc.).] You may consider other characters in the analysis (the Duke, for instance), but the focus needs to be on Brabantio and Othello.

In the second body part of your essay, argue the impact of gender bias within the relationship between Iago and Emilia. Consider how the two genders here (male and female) view one another and themselves. How are these stereotypes supported and/or challenged in the play? Again, you may consider other characters (like Cassio or Desdemona) but the focus needs to be on Iago and Emilia.

Conclusion: Compare these perspectives on race and gender to current views of racism, xenophobia and sexism, to analyze the cultural relevance of the play. When commenting on current sentiments, give specific examples for support and not generalizations.

The following module will focus on Othello and these theories of structuralism, colonialism and gender studies, so if you are having difficulties with how to approach this assignment, these lessons will greatly help.

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