Heroism and Arguments

PART 1:  How is heroism defined in Germanic Pagan culture? To answer this question, you should consider the heroic qualities defined in Beowulf and Beowulf’s understanding of heroism. Formulate an argument using the structure learned in class (see notes on Moodle). Your answer should include at least two concrete examples from Beowulf. Use the structure learned in class to reference specific scenes from the text.   (300-400 words)  PART 2:  Using the skills learned in class (see notes on Moodle), formulate an argument in response to one of the following questions. Your response should be focused on a single main argument.   Answer any of these questions. You may answer more than one, but you should have a single main argument:   How has the definition of hero changed in the twenty-first century?   What qualities are necessary to be a hero?   Does everyone have the potential to be a hero?  Is the concept of heroism helpful or harmful? Does heroism inspire action or does the myth of the single-handed hero simply create bystanders?  Are the heroes in stories such as “Hercules”, “The Two Swords”, and “The Ballad of Mulan” still relevant today? Why or why not?  Many scholars have argued that our views of heroes and heroism are based on gender biases. In her article “When the Hero is the Problem”, Rebecca Solnit argues that the “virtues [most often associated with heroism] are those traditionally considered feminine rather than masculine”. She says this is true regardless of the hero’s gender. As we discussed in class, Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey has also been criticized for its gender bias (look at the descriptions of the steps and archetypes in the two versions of the hero’s journey we looked at). In response to these criticisms, Campbell said: “Women don’t need to make the journey. In the whole mythological journey, the woman is there. All she has to do is realize that she’s the place that people are trying to get to.” Consider how the hero stories that are told, or the way they are told, is influenced by gender bias. How might hero stories better reflect gender diversity? What would such a story look like? Do these stories exist?    Answer any of these questions. You may answer more than one, but you should have a single main argument:   Why are trickster stories compelling (in other words, why do you think so many cultures tell stories about trickster characters?)?   How do tricksters challenge or subvert the concept of heroism?   Are tricksters useful or harmful (or both) in society today? Consider the trickster’s role as an agent of chaos.   If you choose option 3, your response should consider at least one of the trickster stories we have studied. Apart from your examples from the stories, you may use an example of real-life agents of chaos (see lecture slides for examples) or trickster stories from the Crash Course Mythology videos.  A question of your choosing. However, it must be approved by me at least one week before the assignment is due.  Your answer should include:  A main argument   At least one appeal to authority or refutation of one of the following texts:  “When the Hero is the Problem” by Rebecca Solnit  “‘Mulanʼ 1998: A Moment of Joy and Anxiety for Asian-American Viewers” by Brian X. Chen  “The Banality of Heroism” by Zeno Franco and Philip Zimbardo  At last two examples from at least two stories covered in class other than Beowulf.  You may also include references to the other articles on Moodle (for example, one of the articles used for the Zoom exercise on Hercules and the Hero’s Journey) and the videos from Crash Course Mythology.  (500-700 words min.)  PART 3: Consider how one or two of the following concepts applies to you or the world around you. You may write about your own life, the people around you, or current events. You do not need to use any formal structure for this section, but you should demonstrate that you have considered the material we covered this semester in your response. Remember that I am assessing your understanding of the material covered.  Representation  A hero’s duty to others (friends, family, allies, enemies and/or strangers)  Our understanding of history  The hero’s journey as an inner journey  Tricksters (or any aspect of tricksters discussed in our class)  Heroism (or any aspect of heroism discussed in our class)  Exemplary heroes  Critical thinking and the importance of understanding arguments    (400 words min. – Since there is no formal structure for this section, it is okay to exceed the word count, but you should not discuss more than two topics.)      NOTES:          References to the course readings must be expressed in your own words and correctly cited in MLA format. I will not accept papers that contain quotations (with or without quotation marks).  This is not a research assignment. I will not accept papers that make references to sources (with or without citations) other than course readings and other course material.  The purpose of this project is to demonstrate that you have mastered the skills and theory covered in class. You must make specific references to concepts learned and readings discussed in class and follow the structure learned in class to formulate your arguments.   Please pay attention to the word count (for parts 1 and 2). Papers that are significantly under the word count are likely missing important elements while papers that are significantly over the word count likely have structural problems or contain extraneous information. These issues will impact your grade.  Follow the structure given. You do not need an introduction, nor do you need to include any closing statements.  You should include a works cited page listing the title and author of the works used (you can find these on Moodle). You do not need to give me the complete bibliographical citation (publisher, etc.). Just the author and the title of the text is fine. You do not need to cite information given on the slides or in lectures delivered during our Zoom sessions.  Papers should be in MLA format: See Moodle for guidance on MLA formatting.  This is an individual assignment. If you don’t understand something or you need help, see me directly.  Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Please refer to your course outline and ISEP for details on what constitutes academic dishonesty.

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