Sundiata and Popol Vuh

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 For this assignment, you’ll write on the topic below to help you make an argument about Sundiata and Popol Vuh. You will then write a 1500-2500 word essay arguing for and supporting your conclusions. This assignment will build your writing and analytical skills. Be sure to cite any secondary research that you do for this assignment using MLA citations.

Topic:  One of the Five Great Themes of World Literature is “Sacred & Secular.” As stated in Unit 1 of this course, “We will find in our study of literary masterpieces from the past many intricate negotiations between the divine and the earthly realms.” Discuss what we learn about how divine powers and earthly beings interact in Sundiata (in an area with a syncretic religion) and Popol Vuh (which is not a sacred text but presents the Mayan cosmology).  Which values embodied by these interactions are considered significant by their societies? What can we learn about their respective cultures by analyzing how these texts handle these issues relating to the sacred and the secular? Use these questions as a springboard to making an argument related to the similarities and/or differences between the texts and their handling of these issues.

Second, write an essay presenting your argument. Include quotations from the texts as well as additional details that illustrate and enhance the points you are making.  Use the following as an outline of what to include:

  • Explain the general topic and relevant themes (e.g. heroes, women) and any relevant terms for that topic (suggested 1-2 paragraphs).
  • Apply that topic to both Sundiata and to Popol Vuh (suggested 4-6 paragraphs).  Give specific examples and quotes from the texts to support your analyses.  Use in-text citations for the quotations.
  • Compare and contrast the texts; it’s up to you whether you organize your essay around this (i.e. spend half comparing them, then half contrasting them) or talk about each of them individually, then mention similarities and differences. 
  • Your final page should be your Works Cited page, in MLA format. It should include the literary texts, as well as any content pages from the course material to which you may have referred and any secondary sources you used.

Criteria on which you will be graded:

  • Your arguments are thoughtful
  • Your essay is well-organized
  • Your analysis is specific and original
  • Your use of language is clear and effective
  • Your quotations and Works Cited are correctly formatted in MLA style

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