I am posting the report as I found the report very informative and to my taste. I hope we shall read this report for our own benefit. I also take the opportunity to thank Afrida for this excellent piece of work. I also received other reports as well - all of which are well worded and shows that you have been quite attentive on that day.
We commenced our Friday class by discussing around 10 essay topics from the Official SAT book. This type of essays is usually referred to as “illustrative essays”. The reason behind this is that we should make a statement in favor or against the topic and to support our statement we should give examples from authentic sources, such as, Literature, History, Science, and Current World Affairs. Therefore, one word, which is important focused while we are given instructions to write such essay, is DEVELOPMENT. We are asked to develop our ideas and point of views from readings, studies, personal experiences, and observations.
The first two topics that were discussed are:
§ Is it important to question the ideas and decisions of people in positions of authorities?
§ Should people take more responsibility for solving problems that affect their communities or the nation in general?
However no such examples were discussed. Both of the essays seem to be almost similar and at the end of the class, we were able to provide examples for the above essays.
The third essay topic was “Can knowledge be a burden rather than a benefit?” This topic was extensively discussed! This essay topic questions ethics and morality of an individual. Age of Renaissance can be a perfect example when we are stating knowledge as a benefit. On the contrary Foucault’s ideology about knowledge can be used to write stating that knowledge is more of burden than benefit. The fourth essay topic seems awkward as it asks “Do changes that make our life easier, not necessarily make it better?” I believe that it never really made our life better. And to support my statement examples from Literature fictions can be taken, which are 1984, Babbitt, Valley of Ashes, Bombardiers, The Great Gatsby, Frankenstein, Brave New World.
I found the fifth essay topic very interesting as it asked, “Is conscience a more powerful motivator than money, fame or power?” Since conscience is more emphasized word here, we should define it briefly. And then examples should be given to support our statement. For instance, the character of Gatsby is an example in which money is more of a motivator than conscience. On the contrary Nick Carraway, also the narrator of the novel, is a character for whom conscience is more important. Characters, such as, Santiago form “Old Man and the Sea” and Captain Ahab from “Moby Dick” prefers fame over consciousness. We should conclude the topic by stating that there are other factors, which can also work as a motivator rather than conscience.
The sixth essay topic consists of only four words, but the topic is way more impactful than this. It asks, “Can success be disastrous?” Of course to some extent it does. Success is ephemeral, does not matter whether he or she is a celebrity or a politician. A perfect illustration would be of the character Macbeth from one of the Shakespeare’s famous plays “Macbeth” because success destroys him at the end. To support this statement more, other characters can also be mentioned, such as, Kurt from the “Heart of Darkness”, Snowball from “Animal Farm”, and Gatsby from “The Great Gatsby”.
The seventh essay topic can be answered biasedly as it asked, “Do we need other people in order to understand ourselves?” Undoubtedly yes. To support this statement, characters from fictions, like, Gregor Samsa from “Metamorphosis”, Lily Bart from “House of Mirth”, the kids from “Lord of Flies”, and lots of others. “Is the world changing for better?” This was the eight essay topic, which I think is a problematic question. Some famous poets and writers do not think the world is changing for the better and they have revealed it through their writings. Yeats is considered to be giving a deadly prophecy in his short poem “The Second Coming”. Likewise, T. S. Elliot in “Wasteland”, Jhumpa Lahiri in “Lowland”, and George Cornwall in “1984”.
In between our discussions, we talked about the novel “Aurora Leigh” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and you have instructed me to read this after “Mistress” by Anita Nair. We also talked about others; Sylvia Plath, Rabindranath Tagore, Victoria Ocampo. The ninth essay topic can be said to be very gripping. “Do you think that ease does not challenge us and that we need adversity to help us discover who we are?” To a great extent it does not challenge an individual. To strengthen this point of view, characters from Moby Dick, David Copperfield, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Great Expectations, can be used.
The last essay topic was “Should heroes be defined as people who say what they think when we ourselves lack the courage to say it?” We were asked to write about this in which I got a 12 and it reduced to a 7. I learnt that line space should not be kept in between paragraphs and no one should mention the SAARC countries. As discussed we should briefly define a hero from our point of view. I think actions speak louder than words, thus a hero never puts forward their words before taking any actions while protesting against something. Brutus from Shakespeare’s play is an accurate example.
However a hero is not always supposed to be a male figure; it can be a female. In History and Literature, there are thousand of female characters that have protested injustice in households and societies. Women have protested and revolt against the wrongdoings. Despite this fact, little or no limelight was given to them. Examples of such protesters from the Literature World are Sylvia Plath, Elizabeth Browning, and many more. Female characters from fictions like, Wings of the Dove, Doll’s House, Much Ado About Nothing, Duchess of Malfi, Winter’s Tale, and Midsummer Night’s Dream can be used to describe as protestors. Later, chapter 14 from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Bengali Version) was read in the class. We learnt about the character Jim that with his natural wisdom he protested against the learnt knowledge. Therefore he can also be accounted as a hero.
Moving forward and away from the essay topics we were shown a file: “Teaching Art Since 1950” by the National Gallery of Art, Washington. We came across terms, such as, pop art, minimal art, abstract expressionism, performance art, new image and much more. The following terms should be studied: impressionism, expressionism, cubism, surrealism, and realism. We came across a Renaissance saying or aphorism “Truth is the daughter of Time”. This means that truth changes with the passage of time and is very short-lived. The questions from this reference should be answered as per your given instructions. In addition, the book “Reading Lolita in Tehran” by Azar Nafisi, Big Question Series from the website templeton, and B. F. Skinners Science and Human Behavior: Its Antecedents and its Consequences should also be read. Deng Xiaoping’s economic ideology was also discussed.
In the next lecture class, Foucault, Structuralism and Deconstruction in Art, Technology and Philosophy should be discussed.