The essay assignment Write an essay showing how the more recent work of fiction reforges or repackages the sorts of issues addressed in the earlier writings in order to create a compelling story.

I’m working on a English question and need guidance to help me study.

Remember the Burkean Parlor metaphor from the beginning of the semester? It’s the idea that significant ideas are discussed over a long period of time by different participants. We call these “conversations” and some of them (like nature vs. nurture or fate vs. free will) have been going on since thousands of years before we were born and will continue long after we are gone. We are going to examine this idea by writing about readings that span multiple generations yet participate in the same conversation.

Preliminary Instructions:

1) Choose one of the following stories (I have not included all of the fiction):

  • Rip Van Winkle – Washington Irving
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – Washington Irving
  • The Slaughter of the Pigeons (from The Pioneers) – James Fenimore Cooper
  • The Masque of the Red Death – Edgar Allan Poe
  • The Tell-Tale Heart – Edgar Allan Poe
  • The Cask of Amontillado – Edgar Allan Poe
  • The Purloined Letter – Edgar Allan Poe
  • Young Goodman Brown – Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • My Kinsman Major Molineux – Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • The Minister’s Black Veil – Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Benito Cereno – Herman Melville

2) Choose two readings by different authors from before the Midterm. These readings should be part of the same conversation (or one of the conversations) found in the story you selected.

The Essay Assignment:

Write an essay showing how the more recent work of fiction reforges or repackages the sorts of issues addressed in the earlier writings in order to create a compelling story. Try to show how elements of fiction (such as plot, character, point of view, setting, etc.) help the reader see the old conversation in a new way. You’ll probably want to address how the different authors handle this conversation at these different points in time, but the emphasis should be on where the conversation ends up – i.e., with the fictional story we read after the Midterm. Be sure to provide specific quotes and some analysis from all three works.

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