Thematic Analysis

Second writing assignment: comparison Due date: 10 Nov 2020 on CULearn   For this exercise, you will be comparing[1] two passages of your choice which you feel have overlapping themes or preoccupations. You will thus be using and extending the skills from the first assignment of connecting a chosen passage to pertinent themes and preoccupations. The expected length is around 800 words, though each submission will be graded on its merits.[2] Here are the steps for doing this assignment: 1.     Choose two short passage which you believe express or reflect the same concept, idea, or theme.[3] Or they may be passages which provide different perspectives on the same character. These may come from the Iliad or the Odyssey, and you can either stick with one poem or mix them. 2.     Create outlines of both passages in bullet point form. This is the same exercise as in the first assignment, except you do not need to submit these outlines. 3.     Consider each passage in connection with the common concept or character. What similarities and differences are there in how the two passages explore or shed light on the common concept or character?[4] 4.     Write your comparison: You will want to briefly describe each passage (what do they say, what happens in them, what ideas are expressed), then describe the different views they present of the common concept or character. The first part of this should make use of the same skills as in the exegesis, while the second part is new. 5.     Submit only your comparison by uploading a Word document into the CULearn dropbox for this assignment. For the part of this assignment that is similar to the first one, we will look for similar things in grading. For the comparison itself, we will be looking for clarity and precision: tell your reader exactly what is similar and what is different, and also back up your statements with evidence by pointing out exactly where in the passages you see these similarities and differences.   Some suggestions for topics and passages (feel free to make use of or ignore these): –        On fame and honour: What does Achilles think about it? Does Achilles in the first half of the Iliad think differently about it from Achilles after the death of Patroclus? After the visit of Priam? What do other characters think about it (Hector and Sarpedon might be good candidates)? What do characters in the Odyssey think about fame? [1] I’ve been told that some English teachers reserve compare for “point out similarities” and use contrast for “point out differences.” I think that’s a bit silly, so interpret my use of the word compare as “say something interesting and relevant in connection with whatever you are comparing.” [2] Meaning, it could well be shorter, but I’d be surprised if something much shorter would be able to do a good job, though I’m open to being surprised. [3] You should use your experience from the first assignment to decide on an appropriate length of passage that you will be able to adequately cover. I have also left out the stipulation that the concept or idea be “important for the poem,” since, if it comes up twice, it’s probably important. There are suggested passages and topics later in this document. [4] Don’t feel obliged to mechanically come up with both similarities and differences, though I will say that a good comparison typically includes enough on similarities to establish that both passages are talking about the same thing, and also enough differences to be interesting. If there are no interesting differences, then it may be better to choose different passages.   On the role of women: Do the two Homeric poems depict women differently? What do women do in the two poems, what do they say, and what do they think? Do different women make different use of their roles (Helen compared to Penelope, or Circe, or Nausikaa … )? –        On objects and things: What role do objects play in the poems, what meanings do they carry? Think for instance of the sceptre in Iliad book 1, or Odysseus’ scar, or the shield of Achilles, or any number of things that populate the poems alongside their human counterparts. –        On the gods: Compare the depictions or descriptions of what the gods are like and what they can do. Are there places where Zeus asserts his absolute power? Are there places where this power is disputed or subverted? How do the poems depict the power and responsibility of the gods for the lives and acts of mortals? –        On minor and lower-class characters: What are the different ways in which these non-heroic characters are depicted across the Homeric poems? What about within a single poem: are there lower-class characters that behave differently, or reflect different versions of being poor or “unimportant”? –        On life and death: What are some different perspectives on life and death? What does Achilles think, or Glaucus and Sarpedon, or Hector? Do the spirits in the underworld of the Odyssey have a different perspective?

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