Literature Paper



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Octavia Butler and Derrick Bell manipulate time to engage you in a past that has not quite passed. They push you into seemingly fantastical worlds, they push you beyond assumptions and expectations, beyond limited narratives and gaps, and instead place a “grim fantasy” in your hands and demand that you reckon with the complexities: the echoes and overlaps, the tangles and knots, the unfamiliar and strange, the expansion of language and ideas. As the reader, you are charged with bearing witness, with making connections that may impact how you view and move through the world. This assignment asks that you show me how you are making these connections.

For this assignment you will:

  1. Choose a quote from anywhere in the novel Kindred or the short story The Space Traders. This quote should resonate with you emotionally and temporally. It should be substantial, between 3-5 lines, and should start at the beginning of a sentence, and close at the end of another. You should choose your quote with intention not haste. This quote will serve as the catalyst for your exploration in this assignment. Your quote should resonate with you on multiple levels.
  2. Discuss the emotional weight of the quote. Consider what the quote stirs up for you—what is provocative about it? What does it bring up for you? What reminders, what new information, what questions spring from it? What is it about what is happening in this excerpt (not the novel, not a podcast, or film, etc.) that strikes an emotional chord? (These are suggested routes; you do not need to answer all the questions posed here.) I want you to consider the situation/statement/incident rather than a particular character. I am essentially asking that you zoom out from a particular character’s experience, and instead attune to the larger message of the quote itself.
  3. You will then use the quote to make a specific historical or contemporary connection. Throughout this novel we are continually faced with incidents, people, events, etc. that echo and mirror each other across time periods. We are continually confronted by historical happenings that perhaps were unfamiliar, I want to see you dig into this. Use your quote as a springboard to delve into a larger issue and make a direct connection. You should be able to discuss how your quote helps you to understand some specific aspect of history, events, incidents, systems, social norms etc. that you may not have considered before. Likewise, your quote may lead you to consider a direct connection with our contemporary moment—events, incidents, systems, social norms etc.
  4. You will use 2 outside sources to assist you with this. At least one of your sources must be a scholarly source.
  5. Paper layout: Times New Roman, 12pt. font, double spaced. Cite your sources in-text using MLA format, and include a work cited page in MLA format. 3-4pgs. No less.
  6. While you may use the Bell’s short story, you may not use the film.


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