Literature is not just something we read for pleasure; it also provides insight into the lives of people. This is especially true of literature written before the modern period such as what we are reading for this course. Literature is able to communicate and convey the social and cultural norms of a particular moment in time or a particular class of individual. The writing assignment for this course asks you to make the connection between the literature and the social and cultural norms of the people depicted in it or the audience it was written for.
In a paper 4 to 6 pages long you will focus on the social roles and expectations present in the readings for this course. You will choose one of the following type of figures that appear in or wrote the works: Emperor, court noble, lady-in-waiting, samurai, commoner, Buddhist priest. In the paper you will discuss what roles and tasks were they were expected to fulfill. You will examine the readings and indicate where they discuss these roles and how they make these roles present for their reader. Also you can consider the role of the author and what things the author wants to communicate and how they go about communicating those things to their reader.
Your essay can take one of two forms: thesis-based or exploratory. The thesis-based essay requires you to present a thesis concerning the roles of your selected figure and evidence in the readings to support the thesis. This is the standard writing assignment approach. In contrast, the exploratory essay allows you to examine different readings to present the facets of social roles within each text and then conclude by summarizing how they come together to describe the roles for the figure you have chosen. The exploratory essay allows for you to deal with texts that present differing perhaps conflicting roles and consider the whole that can emerge from the disagreeing parts. In both approaches you should draw on the texts you select and the information contained in them as the basis for your arguments and inferences.
Citations should be in parentheses next to the quote. If you are citing the introductions from HaruoShirane then put Shirane and the page number(s); if you are citing from the readings then put the title and the page number(s).