OBJECTIVES: Each student will pick a subject (fictional or real) to argue and analyze as a cultural hero (https://blog.richmond.edu/heroes/2012/09/12/personal-versus-cultural-heroes/). The minimum length is 750 words. Whether you want to write about someone fictional like Superman or a real person like Beyonce, the choice is yours. You could even think outside the box and choose an organization or company, like PETA or Amazon. The challenge, however, is that you need to frame this argument culturally: this is not about your personal hero. In other words, your argument needs to matter to society and your readers. We need to understand the purpose for why you’ve written about this figure and what we can learn from your original insights. (Please also do not mix up the term with “culture hero,” which often refers to mythological figures.)
THESIS/ARGUMENT/PURPOSE: Your job is to convince us that your subject is a cultural hero. Avoid stating the obvious (e.g. “Batman is a hero.”). Instead, focus on arguments that might surprise or enlighten us. For instance, maybe your argument isn’t about Superman as a comic book hero but a cultural hero and that he’s a role model for adopted people who are displaced from different cultures. That kind of argument wouldn’t be obvious like arguing about his super powers. If you pick a superhero, in fact, I don’t want you stating the obvious. You will write a weak argument. You must instead offer unique reasons. Or you could pick a unique person (https://time.com/5477713/2018-heroes-of-the-year/).
SUGGESTIONS: The possibilities for this assignment are endless, so I’m hoping there’s a lot of variety from the class. Don’t just pick anything. Pick a topic that genuinely interests you, one that you’ll be excited to learn more about. You’ll have to think about this subject for a while, so it’s important that you’re engaged. You don’t even need to personally like the subject or agree with what they stand for—as long as you’re interested in learning more, that’s what really counts. NOTE: Family members, friends, or people you know are generally not acceptable for the assignment (unless they are well-known).
RESEARCH: Include at least 2 credible sources and a Works Cited Page in the final draft.
EVALUATION: The success of your essay will be measured by how well you break down the subject for your readers. How deep is the analysis? Do you include enough illustrations to prove your argument? Do you focus on the most important, interesting, and insightful aspects for your readers? How much new insight do your readers gain from your essay? One of the pitfalls of this assignment is that students turn the essay into something that reads like a Wikipedia entry. Definitely avoid that: make sure this is an argument.
Additional Writing Guidelines:
1. Present the essay in MLA style.
2. Write the essay for a general audience.
3. You can be creative but write formally. Do not call the person by their first name, unless necessary (people known by one name, like Beyonce).
4. You can write from a personal perspective but you should not be the focus.
5. Include at least one quote from each piece of research.
6. Make sure you have a thesis statement at the end of your introduction.
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