Monday, March 15, 2010


Half the Sky Essay Assignment Spring 2010

We have been reading Half the Sky for over a month now and have had many discussions in the class about the issues raised about global gender equity. It is now time for students to formulate their thoughts and develop a question to answer in a persuasive essay.

If students like some of the topics we have already explored and their freewrite responses, certainly they can expand on previously contemplated topics such as microfinance as a way to purchase freedom for many women in the world of Half the Sky, the benefits of education, and the power of alliances with other women and men within and without one’s society.

Other topics we have explored are the semantics of freedom—what is “power” or “empowerment”? Does the definition change when we compare regional change in the worlds of the women we meet in Half the Sky, or is the definition relatively consistent?

Is there a prototype or archetype for this philosophical empowered woman? What does she look like? Can we do selective breeding and mass produce these women so that the world changes overnight? Can we inject girls with a serum to prevent oppression once and for all?
Cultural traditions supported by women often continue oppressive practices many men are opposed to. How do women participate in their own oppression and disempowerment (if this is a word)?

Half the Sky is a sobering look at women abroad. It is written, however, in a way which makes all readers look for inequities at home, gender-based inequities at home. Yet, despite the huge job in front of us (empathetic readers) the writers seem to balance despair with hope. How do they accomplish this task? Look at the text’s organization for clues.

Rape is one of the worse forms of violence against women. In societies which have centered its core values in the chastity of its women, a rape mares the reputation of the entire family. Rape dishonors the family name and often causes irreversible harm to the woman’s status thereafter—no one will marry her. These women and girls are often tacitly encouraged in some cultures to end their lives. In Half the Sky, though, we are introduced to women who do not think their vagina is a symbol of their worthiness. Who are these women and how are they fighting back?

Feel free to develop your own questions to explore. We will talk about this further next week. Each question needs to look at Half the Sky as a resource, of course, and then use two articles outside the book to support the movement (thinking) of these issues outward. Try to find a local or western or first world nation connection in your search for related materials. Use the library database where possible. Students do not have to cite the source in-text, just read it.

The essay will be between 3-5 typed pages long. This includes a works cited page. Each essay will include 3-5 citations, one of the 3-5 citations, 1 should be a block quote and another, a free paraphrase. Students will also have to use ellipses in their block quote or in-text citation.

NOTE: The 3 page essay can only have 3 citations. 1 citation per page. English 201 students need only write a 500-750 word essay.

Half the Sky DUE DATES:
Planning March 15-17
Planning Sheet, Outline, Thesis due March 17_________
First Draft March 24_________
Final Draft emailed by March 26__________

In package include Half the Sky freewrites, also include reading logs
Turn all of this in with essay. Students can email me the essay and print me a copy as well.

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