5 pages essay 028

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In response to the prompt below, write an essay of about 5-6 pages in length (~1500 words). Make sure to title your paper and organize your argument around a clear thesis statement or question in the introduction. Support your argument with relevant citations, examples, or scenes that elucidate and sharpen your analysis. Rely on the skills of close reading, critical thinking, and comparing that we’ve practiced throughout the semester.

(1) In Giovanni Boccaccio’s bookThe Decameron (1353) andIngmar Bergman’s film “The Seventh Seal” (1957), the outbreak of the plague is at times understood as divine punishment for the sins of humanity and at other times as an overpowering natural phenomenon whose destruction reveals the social tensions and inequities of the human condition.The plague, both historically and in these artworks, prompts humans to break from the past and recreate the world.From the vantage ofthe emergent global pandemic today,how did the current event inform your experience of reading or viewing one of these works? And, inversely, how has the experience of thinking about one of themchanged your own perception of the crisis as it is nowunfolding?Do you think it’s important to hold onto theutopian desire illustrated in these works, associated with the power of art and literature in general, to imagine the world anewout of ruin? Why or why not?

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(2) In his Meditations on First Philosophy (1641), René Descartes undertakes amethod of systematic doubt in order torationally determine the foundation on the basis of which human knowledge and the natural sciences can be fully justified. In doing so, he established a mind/body dualism opposing two different substances in nature. This dualism, between the cognitive and physical spheres,has informed the development ofrational-scientific thoughtthroughout the Enlightenment in Europe. How does Descartes’ mind/body dualism contrast withthe illustration of human nature given in some of the poetry we’ve read, such as Li Baior Basho, where consciousness seems to be much more embedded in its natural or socio-politicalenvironment?Do you think one of these poets convincingly challenges the tenants of Cartesian dualism? Why or why not?

Note on organization:In answering this question, give a clear explanation of what the mind/body dualism is before considering whether Li Bai’s or Basho’s poetry contrasts with and maybe even undermines Descartes. You can have recourse to the principles of Taoism or Zen Buddhism, which influenced them respectively, or you can rely on the texts alone to support your argument.

(3) You can also formulate your own essay question, as long as it examines at least two different texts from the syllabus after the first exam, but you need to consult with me first. I suggest trying to format the question like the prompts above to get started.

It’s necessary to cite quotes from the readings. Outside sources are not required. Please do promote one and pay attention to the details. A clear thesis is required.

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