Respond critically to Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks. Your audience is academic and has expectations about what makes a reasonable response to a written text. Focus is vital. Your response won’t cover every theme Parks covers. That’s fine. Let your interests, ideas, and reactions guide you in your response. Whichever response strategy you choose, make sure to develop your points, and back up what you say with support from the play e.g. use words or lines from the poem to support your ideas.
I’ll be looking for: â— a strong, lively engagement with the play. â— a demonstrated understanding of the play. â— use of quotations and paraphrasing to support your points â— MLA documentation â— support for claims made (outside research optional) â— academic tone, eloquent prose â— cohesiveness: a central theme, idea, argument: thesis statement What’s not allowed: â— excessive summarizing â— a like/dislike or agree/disagree or “this play is annoying” essay â— a five paragraph essay â— an assortment of unrelated, scattered reactions or a sampling of the questions below.
Possible Ways of Responding or Getting Into a Text Criticism: â€‹What do you disagree with? Why do you feel Parks has failed to construct a working narrative? Did she build the play on faulty assumptions? Where did she fail to develop her thinking? Could her ideas be turned against her? Extension: â€‹Where else could the poem’s ideas go? Can they be applied elsewhere? While the play might offer an intriguing look at one topic, its ideas might be extended to discuss other subjects. Or might the play be compared constructively to another poem? Exegesis (Analysis):â€‹Isolate one strain running through the play, either stated or implied, and interpret it. What is the Parks’ attitude toward ___________? What is the play’s most striking moment, metaphor, scene, or theme—and why? On what assumptions does play rest? Think themes: how does the poem address its major themes? This list is not comprehensive. Feel free to generate other response strategies
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