This assignment asks you to evaluate arguments made by others, and to then make a critical claim that responds to these
arguments. You need to make your own argument, drawing on the work of others and your own experiences and insights to
construct a response to the above question. Your response can agree or disagree with the source authors, or do some of
both; the point is to construct a convincing, persuasive, formal academic essay, that highlights all of the writing skills you
Read philosopher Martha Nussbaum’s essay, “Education for Citizenship in an Era of Global Connection,” and English
literature scholar Terry Eagleton’s essay, “The Death of Universities” (links to both of these are available on Blackboard,
under “Course Readings”). In the first article, Nussbaum argues that liberal arts education provides fundamental and
necessary tools for advancing critical thinking and fostering a “narrative imagination,” both of which facilitate the
development of informed and engaged modern citizens of the world. Eagleton’s essay laments the decline of humanities
education in many universities worldwide, and suggests that this diminishing of such a central component of higher
education is leading (negatively) to a redefinition
of the university itself. Both articles stress the ability of humanities
education to act as a critical social practice, as a way of contrasting “what is” with “what could be”. Your assignment is to
evaluate these two articles in light of one another: Are the claims the authors offer reasonable or accurate? Are these
values expressed in humanities and liberal arts disciplines worthwhile? What do you think of the current social tendency to
devalue the importance of these disciplines? What is at stake in humanities education? Please note, while such questions
are intended to help you construct and orient your argument, you do not need to use them as a proverbial “checklist” – the
position and approach you take is yours to choose.
The purpose of this assignment is twofold:
1. Writing this essay will help you think creatively about the “value” (or lack thereof) of humanities education. It will allow you
to get an idea of the kinds of questions and ways of thinking you can expect to get out of courses such as ACMA01.
2. This project is intended to give us (that is, the TAs and myself) an idea of the areas in which you excel as writers and
areas that need further development. As this course is largely studentoriented,
it is crucial that we see your strengths and
weaknesses, so that we can tailor projects to your needs. So, draw on all of the writing skills you’ve developed up to this
point, and construct the best essay you can with those skills. This first assignment will serve as a diagnostic to let you and
your TA know where your writing stands in terms of university expectations. Be sure to read the grading rubric carefully for
summaries of these expectations, and make sure your paper follows the criteria to the best of your ability. We understand
that you may feel illequipped
to write such an essay, which
is why this first assignment only constitutes 5% of your total mark for the course. There will be opportunities later in the term
to make up some of the marks lost on this first assignment.
Notice, I have not given you a specific thesis or claim to argue. It is your job as a writer to create your own analytic
framework and argument. There is not one single correct answer; there are a variety of answers and responses to this
question that are valid. As such, this assignment requires you to make a critical claim and support it with your own logic and
argumentation. I am looking for a thoughtful discussion of the essay and ideas in question, and analysis that speaks to or
illuminates the question posed in the title of this assignment (“Why study humanities?”). Summarize and compare the
positions of both authors, and then offer and support an evaluative claim in response. Your paper will be graded in part on
the quality of your claim, so make sure you have a clearly articulated position, claim, or argument. Draw on or critique the
assertions made in the article you choose through quotation, citation, summary, and paraphrasing.
pages, approximately 1200 words. Do not exceed 4 total pages plus a separate Works Cited page. Do not use
a title page. Your essay must be typed (doublespaced)
in Times New Roman, 12 point font. Follow the formatting
guidelines as outlined in MLA 7 style guide, including margin size, quotation formatting, and proper citation practices.
Is this question part of your Assignment?
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