and Humanities Foundation
Nature, Culture, Progress
On our course syllabus, the following appears under the course description: “Humans are simultaneously part of and distinct from Nature. On the one hand, we possess myriad natural instincts, but, of course, they do not completely define us; each of us is also a cultural being endowed with traditions, identities and technologies that distinguish us from Nature.” We have begun to consider questions such as:
How do artists represent Nature and our relationship to it?
What have some well-known authors, artists, musicians and philosophers thought about Nature?
To what extent are humans natural and to what extent are they formed by culture?
We have also thought about how several artists and philosophers have considered human’s proximity to and distance from nature as well as relationships between Human Nature, Nature, Culture and Progress. We have read Annie Dillard’s In the Jungle, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin of Inequality and Richard Holmes The Age of Wonder. We have looked at paintings by Thomas Cole, John Constable, J.M.W.Turner, Asher Durand, and Caspar David Friedrich. We have listened to Igor Stravinsky’s seminal work Rite of Spring. We are now reading Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essays “The American Scholar,” “Nature” and “Self-Reliance,” and sections of Henry David Thoreau’s essay Walden. After that, we will consider a selection of Emily Dickinson’s poems, and a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne. We will view Agnes Varda’s film The Gleaners and I and a variety of animated short films including, among others, Das Rad, Tout Rien and Rabbit.
For this synthesis essay, you will write about Nature, Culture and Progress by thinking about a pithy aspect of Rousseau’s Second Discourse that you find interesting and connecting it in some way to three or four of the other works that we have read, looked at or listened to. (The ideas you present in your essay are yours alone??"you do not need to do any outside research.) Choose three or four of the texts/films by different authors/filmmakers and write about them in a way that seems meaningful to you in terms of our course’s themes??"please see the list on the syllabus. In other words, do not choose more than one essay, poem, story, or film by each author/filmmaker. You must include one of the animated films in your discussion.
You may compare, you may contrast, you may compare and contrast; you may argue??"the organizing principle is entirely up to you. The only requirements are that you discuss some aspect of Rousseau and three or four other pieces; other than that, the choices are yours.
Use the following check boxes to make sure that you have avoided these common errors before you hand in your essay. Use Diana Hacker’s A Writer’s Reference when necessary. Be sure to visit the writing center if you need to.
? In the upper left hand corner, single-spaced:
A & H 1300 Nature, Culture, Progress
? Interesting title is centered and is not underlined, bolded or in quotation marks.
Consider a title with a colon for maximum effect. For example,
Images of the Other: Creature, Spider and Death in Mary Shelley and Emily Dickinson.
? Writers, painters, poets, musicians, philosophers, film makers, title, genres, years of publication or release or first performance and relevant characters are introduced in introductory paragraph.
? Pithy thesis statement is at conclusion of lucid introductory paragraph.
? Text titles are italicized.
? No contractions.
? Standard essay formatting:
? 1” margins all around.
? 12-point font
? Essay is evenly double-spaced. (No quadruple spacing ever,)
? Paragraphs are at least five to seven sentences long.
? Page numbers of quoted material appear at the end of the sentence in which they appear like this (Rousseau 42). Period follows the parentheses.
? Literature is discussed in the present tense??"it is not history; it is alive.
? Parallel structure in all of its forms is minded:
? Pronouns agree with their antecedents.
? Verbs agree with their subjects.
? Tense is consistent.
? People are “who” or “whom” and things are “that.”
? Plurals and possessives are not confused (for example, its and it’s).
? All sentences are connected to those that precede and follow them.
? Transitions create a smooth, connected flow that leads your reader from paragraph to paragraph.
? Sentences that begin with subordinating conjunctions or prepositional phrases contain commas.
? Vocabulary is interesting and diction is correct.
? Quotations are introduced and concluded, meaning that you never conclude a paragraph with a quotation; you conclude with your own analytical words.
? Quotations limited to the minimum amount necessary to support your point.
? Appositives are correctly punctuated. (For example: Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, wrote the novel after participating in a ghost story contest.)
? The conclusion brings your essay to an end by drawing a conclusion and does not simply reiterate what has already been said.
? A Works Cited list is appended. Review how to cite different formats in A Writer’s Reference.
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