Explore the way August Wilson carries the theme through the play Fences
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Scholars closely study the works they write about, and familiarize themselves with other critics’ interpretations. They’re knowledgeable, and they base their opinions on evidence. However, different critics see different things in the same text. They often disagree.
For this assignment, you will consider three critical essays and explore the scholars’ ideas. You will use their ideas to expand your own understanding of one of the major themes in Fences.
Choose one of the major themes of the play:
fathers and sons
Explore the way August Wilson carries the theme through the play. What does he say about the lives of his characters through this theme? What does he want us to think?
Provide evidence for your thesis and your supporting arguments: in other words, quote dialogue from the play and refer to specific events in it.
Incorporate insights from the critical essays provided to you. Briefly summarize these key points, and respond. Do you agree with the other scholars’ insights, or disagree? Provide evidence to support your assertions.
Advice: How to Proceed
[We’ll be doing many of these steps in class or for homework. Don’t skip any of the steps; if you do, your job will be harder and your essay won’t be as good.] Read the critical essays; take notes on the ideas that you find interesting, enlightening, or unconvincing.
Choose the theme you’ll write about.
List the different ways in which Wilson explores the theme; find the most important places in the play where the theme is mentioned.
Take notes on what you think Wilson is trying to say through this theme.
Utilize 2-3 sources for your paper
Refine those notes and turn them into a rough draft of your thesis.
Plan supporting arguments.
[Or, if you need to write a rough draft of the essay in order to discover ideas, then do that. After you’ve done it, decide what your thesis seems to be.] Plan your evidence: which passages from the play will you quote? Which excerpts from the essays will you comment on?
Draft your essay.
Plan major revisions.
Here are the critical essays: (You can also search and find your own sources) _Fences_ – 3 sources .pdf
Byerman, “America’s Passed Time” –
Wessling, “Wilson’s Fences” – on Canvas Files [a 1-page excerpt] Koprince, “Baseball as History and Myth in Fences”
You can also use these sources:
Failure of the American Dream in Fences-1.pdf
Baseball as History and Myth in August Wilson’s Fences-1.pdf
The Fences They build Blk Women in Fences-1.pdf
If you can, print out the articles, do a close read and mark them up. You’ll notice that they all focus mainly on the theme of baseball; but they also touch on the other themes.
Note: This is a challenging assignment—the most challenging one of the semester. It will require you to read and understand sophisticated critical essays. It will require you to summarize and evaluate the ideas of scholars. Please accept the challenge!
Length: final draft, 5-6 pages (typed, double‐spaced, 12 point font)
MLA Format, with Works Cited list.