Final Essay Questions

Choose two of these questions and write an insightful, cohesive essay in response to each.  Be sure to have a clear thesis and support it with specific textual examples and careful analysis (28 points each).

  1. In an increasingly digital age, where we offload our memories to external devices, what role should memory play in our lives? As we’ve discussed, our identity is constructed via memory, and we’ve seen many characters who struggle because they fail to remember properly: Odysseus should have remembered his family when he was chasing after glory, Dante should have remembered Beatrice’s beauty after she died, Eve and Adam should have remembered God’s command, Frankenstein should have remembered his family, and Andy, even after his injury, should have remembered his community’s love for him. Using three of these texts, make an argument for how we should train and use our memories.
  2. How should we make our home in an earth which was our home but which has been damaged by our fall? How do we make a home here in exile in such a way that cultivates us to dwell later in our restored home? Make an argument that answers these questions by drawing on three of the texts we’ve read this semester.
  3. How is the interpretation of a literary text similar to going on a long pilgrimage or journey? We’ve read about Odysseus’ pilgrimage home, Dante’s arduous travels through the afterlife, Lear wandering in the storm, Hema and Kaushik traveling in search of knowledge and opportunity, and Andy’s careful remembering of his community. Journeys cultivate certain virtues, they can be slow and difficult, and their effects linger long after they end.  Using two of the texts we read, explain how interpreting a text is like going on a pilgrimage.