Monday, April 28, 2008

The Final Essay Assignment


DUE: TUESDAY, MAY 13, IN YOUR GSI’S MAILBOX, NO LATER THAN 3:00 PM. NO LATE PAPERS WILL BE ACCEPTED. So, please, just hand in the paper on time. (Note that the Rhetoric office is CLOSED from 12-1; plan accordingly.)

The assignment: Perform a rhetorical reading of Plato’s Phaedrus. You may choose to focus on any aspect of the text that tickles your fancy. You may find it helpful to explain yourself by discussing other texts we’ve read this semester. What follows are prompts, leaping off points, ideas. Do not take them as law but rather as suggestions.

1. Is Socrates ever serious? Is he kidding? Must it be one or the other? How does this ambivalence, this irony, this play function? And how does this play differ from McLuhan’s play, from his puns and jokes and humor? Or consider "Dissoi Logoi": How does the ambivalence of the “Dissoi Logoi” relate to Socrates’ irony in the Phaedrus? In what ways do the texts engage different modes of ambivalence? What's at stake in this difference? Be sure to focus on particular passages from each text.

2. Is Phaedrus a written text or spoken text? Must it be one or the other? How do the speeches within the dialogue affect this distinction? How do quotation marks function to inflect this distinction? And how does this relationship shape the argument of the text?

3. Throughout Phaedrus, there is a strange and ever moving play of voices. How does this multiplicity inflect how we read the text? Whom can we believe? Or any of the voices to be trusted? If so many people are speaking, how are we to make sense of this text?

4. If we can consider Phaedrus a pedagogic text, who is the teacher and who is the student? Who learns? How? Who instructs? How? And I don't think you can say that Socrates teaches and Phaedrus learns. But you will need to say why that is NOT the case.

The stipulations: Failure to follow these stipulations will be reflected in your grade.

  • Write no more than five pages.
  • No cover page. Repeat: no cover page.
  • No folders. Repeat: no folders.
  • On the upper right hand corner of the first page of your paper, write your name, the name of the course, your GSI’s name, and the date.
  • Margins: 1 inch top and bottom; 1.25 on the sides.
  • Use a 12 point font.
  • Include page numbers.
  • Staple your papers.
  • Spell your GSI’s name, and the authors’ names, correctly.
  • Edit your paper carefully; typos will impact your grade.
  • Title your essay.

Things to keep in mind:
  • Be textual. Begin talking about the texts then continue to talk about the texts. You may focus on one passage but be sure to show how that one passage functions in terms of the text as a whole.
  • Cite the texts properly and consistently.

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