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Writing Assignments

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Author: preed
Gives a list of possible writing assignments.


In this class, you must write at least two dialogues. A dialogue has a different goal from a typical essay. An essay usually starts from a general topic or issue and tries to tighten its focus down to a single conclusion. A dialogue usually aims to open up a topic and show that it repays reflection from more than one perspective.

The two speakers in your dialogue should have different starting points, and they should learn from each other in the conversation, enriching their own point of view by considering the other speaker’s point of view. Perhaps your speakers will reach a fusion of their horizons, and come to agree on seeing things in a new way. Or perhaps they will come to an even sharper disagreement, as they appreciate better what is at stake in holding their own view rather than the other speaker’s.

When you draw on the assigned texts to develop the points of view of your speakers, it is usually best not simply to take over a character from the assigned text for your dialogue. For example, when you draw on a short story for your speaker, you do not necessarily want simply to make one of the characters from the story into one of your speakers. You will often use the assigned text in a more precise and interesting way if you focus on some particular passage or theme you find in the assigned text, and develop your own character.

Keep your speakers in character. Sometimes you may be able to incorporate actual quotations from the assigned texts into the conversation. Print notes in the margins (it’s okay to do this by hand) to show what passages you are drawing on when you make your characters speak, and explain briefly in the margin any use of a text that a reference may not make obvious. Always support your claims with specific and detailed references to the texts and movies. For movie references, cite the numbered sections from the movie summaries when you can.

As a general guideline, the dialogues should be 1000-2000 words long.

Dialogues should be single-spaced within what one speaker says, but double-spaced to mark a change of speakers. Single-space any narrative material. Give your paper a title that puts your reader in the right frame of mind to read it. Avoid writing a paper that is mostly a report of material from class lectures.

Where you do not write a dialogue, you may substitute an alternative assignment if one is given.  For the alternative assignments, a reasonable length guideline is 800-1100 words, with 1500 words being an absolute limit.  As with the dialogues, avoid writing a paper that is mostly a report of material from class lectures.

You must write at least two of the first three papers and two of the last three.


Assignment Due Date
Paper 1 Session 8
Paper 2 Session 16
Paper 3 Session 22
Paper 4 Session 28
Paper 5 Session 35
Paper 6 Session 38

Plot Summaries for the Movies

Exotica, directed by Atom Egoyan, 1994.

The Hairdresser's Husband, directed by Patrice Leconte, 1994.

Mind the Gap, directed by Eric Shaeffer, 2004.

Hannah and Her Sisters, directed by Woody Allen, 1986.

The Secret Lives of Dentists, directed by Alan Rudolph, 2002.

Babette's Feast, directed by Gabriel Axel, 1986.

Proof, directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse, 1992.

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